By Nirmal Ghorawat, Wordforpeace.com
The concept of binding multiple states on the basis of religion – in the case of Islam – has taken shape in public discourse, especially in the Islamic-sphere. While everyone is challenging the idea or debating its implications on the rest of the world, it appears no one has had time to ponder on the economic & administrative implications of such union on the citizens and people occupying those territories.
Of the 1.6+ billion Muslims in the world – around 50% + live in South East and South Asia (Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia). The Arabs in Middle East – Saudi Arabia & Iran, the two largest account for less than 10% of the global Muslim population but are the wealthiest and hence the vocal group.
The key difference between the “believers” in Middle East and Pakistan or Bangladesh is the Crude Oil bounty. Naturally, in the absence of such a bounty, the people in Pakistan & Bangladesh have been constrained to develop a lot of other skills in other areas of human endeavor – from skilled professionals, a large standing army to unskilled manual labor. Compared to this in the Middle East, especially the Arabian Peninsula, the oil bounty means the state and the people are wholly dependent on oil revenues with insignificant, if any, role of their people in other human endeavors. This can also be understood from the fact that there is huge presence of NATO and other forces in the Middle East to guard these kingdoms as well as meeting the requirement of skilled and manual labor from other countries in South Asia, etc.
In any Islamic State – whether formed by Armed Conquest or say a EU style integration of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – Pakistan, Bangladesh (and to some extent, may be Indian Muslims, who may choose to migrate) and Malaysia and Indonesia will be in a demographically advantageous position. This lot, which represents around 45-50% of the world Muslim population has seen and experienced democracy, rights & freedom which though not comparable to the high standards of Europe or US is better than whatever has been prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa.
Further, from an administrative & economic perspective – any Union with the oil rich Middle East – provided there is equivalent sharing of resources and free movement of men and material will be beneficial to the people of Pakistan say, finding jobs in the administration given their demographic dominance and comparative skills. Additionally, there are jumbo state sovereign funds in the Middle East Kingdoms which can be used for the development & industrialization of the people of Pakistan and Bangladesh and other comparatively poor Muslim countries such as North Sudan and Ethiopia.
If the natural bounty is shared coupled with freedom of migration across the map– without discrimination – it could bring millions out of poverty but it will also turn the wealthy Arabs into what would be comparable to Middle Class in High Income Countries. Realization of this should turn away a lot of tangible support – money and people from the very idea of jihad.
My take – a Socialist Democratic Islamic Nation is best suited for South Asian & South East Asian Muslims.