November 06, 2007 01:05 IST
Two headlines on The New York Times this week caught my attention. One said, 'Hello, India? I Need Help With My Math.' It was about how Indian tutors sitting in cities like Chennai are helping American children in Washington and California get good grades in math.
The other headline, about America's blue eyed regime, screamed, 'Pakistan Rounds Up Musharraf's Political Foes' and detailed the state of emergency clamped there.
What a difference between two State powers that were born simultaneously!
One was separated because it did not want to remain 'shackled' to a Hindu majority nation. 'We are a separate Qaum (identity), we are Muslims,' roared Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Even Iqbal, the poet who wrote Sare Jahan Se Acchha Hindustan Hamara ('Our India is the greatest'), wrote a foundational theory justifying the creation of a separate nation and redrafted his immortal lines into 'Sare Jahan Se Acchha Pakistan Hamara'.
Mahatma Gandhi is still anathema in Pakistan though he fasted unto death, annoying both his disciples Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel, forcing them to give Rs 52 crores -- Rs 520 million, a mammoth amount in those times -- as a 'loan' to newborn Pakistan. But Iqbal, the arch supporter of our motherland's division, remains a much revered icon in India in whose memory all governments -- including the Bharatiya Janata Party's -- are pleased to give high awards to Urdu poets.
An all-inclusive Hindu majority nation with an astounding continuity of tradition that defines applied democracy and freedom of thought remains a helpless spectator to the plight of its neighbour, which was considered an inseparable part of India till 60 years ago, and which has fought four bloody wars with us.
Pakistan's Islamic dream has gone sour miserably.
It got further divided in 1971, giving birth to another jihad factory, Bangladesh. Like any other Muslim majority country the world over -- Turkey provides an exception, for many other reasons although -- it has an Islamic obsession to wield the gun and teach the West and the Hindu-Jewish combine a lesson.
In Karachi, the brave journalists keep writing books like Who Owns Pakistan? Or Pakistan -- Between America, Army and Allah (in that order), and Taliban-a Bane or a Boon?
Those who care for a reasonably modest Islamic republic have accepted intermittent periods of a nascent democracy, army rule and judicial games -- giving a semblance of constitutional regime -- while human rightists present well-prepared papers in Delhi seminars and give wishful speeches at glamorous media summits.
A leader is allowed in, ostensibly because Big Brother in Washington 'approved' her politics and the other is shunted off from the airport itself, exiled to a State run by the protector of two holy mosques.
India, the nation they derided and disapproved of, is emerging as the genuine friend and 'apne log' to the common Pakistani. Indians find warmth and light in a living democracy where every shade and colour finds a space to shine, notwithstanding fringe extremism in stray corners.
Pakistanis are bewildered to see a prominent road in Aurangzeb's memory and almost a ban on naming any important point after Dara Shikoh! 'I can't believe it,' exclaimed a Karachi-based journo, our guest.
That's India, a Hindu majority, attacked and assaulted by Pakistan immediately after a Partition that Hindus didn't want. The kind of gory massacres and loot that occurred during Partition and then in Mirpur and Muzaffarabad, beginning October 27, 1947, is a holocaust that is still etched in the minds of survivors.
Yet, the average Indian exudes warmth and closeness to a Pakistani citizen, and vice versa.
For Indians, it is an unbelievable experience to find common Pakistanis reaching out to them in pure affection. My Karachi, Lahore and Balochistan trips are full of such unforgettable memories of welcome.
And none of the visits was government sponsored.
The same happen when a Pakistani visits us. Indians try to walk the extra mile to show their neighbours love and a trust in unbreakable ties.
Isn't it surprising? Two people separated by faith and mistrust, yet longing to see each other and willing to forget the unsavoury past?
It is culture that binds Delhi, Karachi and Dhaka. Common festivals like Basant (spring) and even our choices of cuisine and couture unite us.
That's why when I meet Pakistanis, often they say, 'Unless we leave these goras (foreigners) and bond, we can't progress.'
India and Pakistan as friends can make progress together and leave the Europeans far behind. We have everything -- brilliance, youth, strength of a hardworking attitude, a land rich in resources and strategic location.
The hate, which in the name of a faith separated the worldview and turned twins into deadly foes, is now pointing the gun at their neck. We call it the Bhasmasur syndrome -- the demon that turns against its own.
The Lal Masjid, Taliban, judicial 'firing,' frequent emergencies, hanging leaders, exiles and an uncertain course ahead. Was it this that Jinnah and Iqbal visualised?
Blood brothers live with a foreign colonialism to 'teach a lesson' to the next-door neighbour, but can't accept what remains their own just because of a change in faith? Is that not reason enough to pause and ponder?
Partition has become more visible 60 years later, and is showing its bloody colours to the children who never created it.
It is a lesson for all of us; hate and extremism can destroy, but they can never help a people bloom.
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