Article: Spreading Hatred in the name of Nationalism – Story of India and Pakistan
by Ali Abbas (India)
Separation in the year 1947 was a tragic episode in both India and Pakistan’s history. But even after 69 years, we have not healed our wounds, come together and lived like two ideal neighbours. Instead we have discovered new reasons to hate each other. Our relationship with Pakistan, now, also involves nationalism, religion and sometimes thinking and food habits. Same is the case in Pakistan. And unfortunately this trend is growing.
Consider the following cases: In 2011, during a semi-final cricket match between India and Pakistan, it was a charged up atmosphere in my hostel. Between this, in a casual conversation with my friend who was also my hostel mate, I said, “I support Pakistan team this time as I think they have played pretty well throughout the tournament and deserve to be in the final”. Surprised by what I said, my friend cautioned me not to speak like a “Deshdrohi” and warned me not to utter such words in front of the others in the hostel for my own safety; Or think of Muslim dominated localities, they are often referred to as “Chota Pakistan” by certain ideologically inclined parties and individuals; Likewise, the amount of tamasha that was created when Sania Mirza tied the knot with a Pakistani cricket star, she was called traitor by hyper nationalists.
My question is, why such uncalled hate towards our neighboring country? Why not have similar feelings towards China who defeated India in the 1962 War and with whom we have territorial issues like Pakistan. Or against Britain, who enslaved India for 200 years, plundered our wealth and left us poor. My point here is not to spread hate feelings towards China or Britain but to highlight conspired and manufactured negative feelings towards Pakistan.
Even though both the countries have Kashmir and terrorism as unresolved issues, things could have been better. I made an effort to explore reasons for such an uncalled crony relationship. On identifying the sources from which the general public gets to hear about Pakistan, I found four major sources i.e cricket, traditional/alternative media, Bollywood movies and through statements or speeches by politicians.
Stop Politics of Hate
Starting with politicians, consider the following examples which, in my view is conspired, notorious and manufactured hate towards Pakistan. And In Pakistan towards India.
A certain Indian minister, displayed his low level of thinking when he asked the people who wanted to eat beef to go to Pakistan. I wonder what the connection between beef eating and Pakistanis; and why should beef eaters go to Pakistan instead of, say, Brazil or Australia which are, after India, the largest exporters of beef in the world. If not paying heed to common sense, the Minister should have at least considered his public position and behaved maturely.
In the past, even a very prominent leader of today has uttered venomous words against Pakistan to grab media and public attention, and may be because of this, we now find more members of his own party asking their own countrymen to go to Pakistan on speaking about intolerance, or not wanting to do “Surya Namaskar”.
While these are individual members, another prominent right wing party has always used Pakistan for public attention and political mileage. Be it from the recent incident of not allowing Ghazal master Ghulam Ali to perform in Mumbai, disrupting BCCI meetings, or defacing organizers who are fellow Indians. I would rather call it cheap stunts to be in the lime light. The party, a self-proclaimed nationalist, has a history of violence against its own countrymen, particularly against minorities. Their past deeds include killing minorities or mercilessly beating poor labourers from Bihar and North India. People should consider the hypocrisy of this right wing party when they make noises of nationalism by speaking against Pakistan.
While saying so, Pakistan too, is not free from this disease. It has her own share of wicked politicians, with short sighted approach, extremist mullahs and retired generals playing in the name of nationalism.
Like a former Military General warning India that Pakistan’s nukes are not saved for Shab-e-Baraat.
Or last year in August, a Pakistani Minister giving an uncalled for statement by saying, “If India tries to impose war on Pakistan, heavy losses will be inflicted on India which it will remember for decades.”
Another such major source from which common people receive information on India and Pakistan is from the media. I think most of us agree that over the years, the performance of media has changed significantly. From reporters to fast track judges, some media houses have long forgotten media ethics.
I have often seen on some news channels, that while presenting on Pakistan, the news is dramatized and spiced up to such an extent that the viewers are forced to think that it’s all Pakistan’s fault, each and every time. The same is the case in Pakistan. India is the enemy, the source of all problems of Pakistan.
One should realize that animated/graphic designed stories with often repeated images arouse tension at border, where real men stand on guard.
To me, this small bunch is the real road block in the Indo-Pak peace process, because a majority of common citizens prefer peace, trade, cultural and sports exchanges between both the nations.
Hope of peace
I am hopeful, we will be able to clear these road blocks and live if not as good neighbors, at least as ideal neighbors. Till that happens, responsibility lies with each one of us, the commoners of both the countries. We have to understand, unnecessary and over enthusiastic show of nationalism by being against each other give rise to complications at the border. It takes billions of dollars to maintain weaponry and armies and all such expenses are borne by us in the form of taxes. When we have long standing peace in place, our soldiers will return to base, and tax money can be better utilised for empowerment, infrastructure and technology. Most progressive nations have maintained good relationships with their neighboring countries. I believe we are capable of resolving our issues, for which leadership and will are lacking, for which we need to force our leaders in that direction.
Ali Abbas is the Hyderabad (India) Coordinator of Aaghaz-e-Dosti. He is a social worker and currently works on environmental issues like air pollution and global warming. He tweets at @