I love Pakistan- by an Indian
The word ‘love’ is a cliché. Being a writer I spend hours avoiding them to pen something original: a practice eminent in the writings of Charles Dickens, sometimes making them ridiculously complicated.
Even after falling in love and writing many love quotes, I still find it difficult to replace the word- love. Equally difficult I find the task of describing the smell of rose in one single word; ‘Sweet’ is such an understatement.
So, uh, where were we?
Yes, my blog- I love Pakistan. During my school days I would have never dreamt of making such a statement with conviction. In fact, I experienced quite the opposite sentiment. The Kargil war, quotes from Nawab Sharif, 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai had filled me with animosity. I was always for severing cricket ties between the two countries. Even with tools like Youtube, Google there was no reason to see life on the other side of the border.
It was in my college years that my uncles told me they had visited Pakistan on account of a business trip. I grew very curious. ‘Were they hostile?’ I asked. ‘No.’, the most hard-nosed of them replied. ‘They are very hospitable and know only about business.’
Still nothing could placate for Pakistan’s mistreatment of the Indian soldiers, mutilation of their bodies in gross abuse of human rights, in stark contrast with the five star treatment received by terrorist Kasab in Pune’s Yerwada jail for almost two years before being hanged to death.
This strong resentment gradually changed when one fine day I mailed a short story at Oxford University Press (OUP), little realising it was OUP Pakistan, not OUP India.
Imagine my surprise when they very promptly acknowledged my mail and my nationality. They kept me updated on the review status of my story and eventually sought four stories for textbook publication with world rights!
I loved Pakistan right then. This broke the first wall of resentment. The rest was torn down by my reading more on Pakistan’s current affairs, its social blogs that provided a window (not ‘glimpse’, that would be a cliché) to their ordinary life.
I now realise we have much more in common than what we had earlier imagined: architecture, language, culture and community values. Centuries of rich culture that we jointly inherited could be little corrupted by sixty years of separation.
I also came to the conclusion that just as is the case with India, in Pakistan, too, the politicians (given a few exceptions) are to be blamed for the border tensions. And it’s not every countryman of Pakistan who is the bad guy.
Distrust, whether between two states or two countries, is the work of vote-bank hungry politicians. Look at the way Shiv Sena (a radical outfit which is pro-Maharashtrians and Hindus) campaigned against BJP, calling it an anti-Maharashtra and a pro-Gujarat party. Then post- election, agreed to form coalition with them.
These days I read, whenever time permits, border dispute news covered by both; the Indian and Pakistani media with great zest online. I have observed that only the names get interchanged, description of the event remains the same. For instance, POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) becomes IOK (Indian Occupied Kashmir).
I strongly urge the youth of both the countries to rise above the biased pictures portrayed by mainstream media and interact more with each other on free social media like Face Book and exchange blogs that reflect more on each other’s day-to-day life.
A recent Gallup study over a period of three generations in Pakistan has revealed that the anti-Indian sentiment in general has been reduced.
If visionary leaders from India and Pakistan learn to benefit mutually in the politic and economic sphere, I am sure our prime ministers would one day exchange ‘love’ letters.