Pakistani. A word that makes many people in India and other parts of the world wince. Almost like that kid at the back of the class that rarely talks and people think is weird. Who is she? What does she want?
Pakistani. A word that evokes emotions. For some of you, they might be negative. But for us, it is something that represents so much more than what is shown on television, what is shown on the internet. Pakistan is home for me and I love it just as much as you love your country. I quote one of my favourite authors, Mohsin Hamid;
"Culturally, too, we are incredibly diverse. We have transvestite talk-show hosts, advocates for “eunuch rights”, burka-wearers, turbaned men with beards, outstanding fast bowlers, mediocre opening batsmen, tribal chieftains, bhang-drinking farmers, semi-nomadic shepherds, and at least one champion female sprinter. We have the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party and we have Porsche dealerships. We are nobody’s stereotype." - Mohsin Hamid
We indeed, are nobody's stereotype. And neither are you. We share more than our skin colour; we share centuries of history, you and I. Where you lost family, be it in the '48, '65, or '71 wars, we lost family as well. Where our ancestors were murdered recklessly during migration, yours were as well. And recently, while scrolling through my feed, after I read about the Uri attacks, my heart went out to their families. Just as my heart went out to the families who lost members at Siachin, who lost members and were blinded by the pellet guns in Kashmir.
Here is the thing; our countries have glorified war to such an extent that we consider it a matter of pride to go to war with one another. While the lives lost are of our own people, the damage done is to ourselves alone. This state-sanctioned terrorism needs to stop being glorified and looked at for what it really is; the incompetence of our collective governments with the arms producing companies as the only benefactors of this bloodshed. Today, as I went through the news I heard about the supposed surgical strikes being conducted by the Indian government. How are these threats we make to each other going to help us as nations? Why, after more than sixty five years of independence, have we not learnt our lesson and now instead of fighting the British, the only difference in us is that we are fighting amongst ourselves.
One of my best friends is Indian. We have been friends for around two years, yet I do know know what he looks like till now. But I trust him more than I trust many people. After seeing the recent of influx of hate speech and bigoted comments made by people once again, he too has left social media for a while. And I know that many like him and me exist on both sides of the boarder, who only want to coexist peacefully with the rest of the world.
And are we all not the same people but behind different masks? Do I not experience the same emotions as you? All I ask is, give peace a chance.
Title image courtsey: dunyanews
Author: Noor Us Sahar, a Pakistani