Why don't we unite
I wish we, Indians and Pakistanis, be one
EXPERIENCE BY AMIT KUSHARI
The relationship between India and Pakistan has suddenly become quite warm and friendly. Business between the two countries has suddenly improved. Visa restrictions have been reduced and now one can travel to Pakistan without visa and get it at the Pakistani airport on landing. That of course, if one is above 65. I can now plan a trip to Pakistan easily. That is good. Let us bury the past for the present and move ahead like friends hand in hand.
How I wish that India had not been divided into three nations. How I wish that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh had remained as one nation and be known by the name of USSA (United States of South Asia). Perhaps that could have never happened! There was so much of mistrust between the Hindus and Muslims during the British days that Hindus and Muslims lived together in the same nation,side by side as neighbours but yet remained like strangers to each other to a large extent. There was very little social interaction between the two communities and indeed they lived like two nations although they shared the same cultural traditions, language, music and literature,same festivals also to some extent and reverence to the same Pirs and saints. They were united in hagiolatry (worship of tombs of saints) but were very divergent ideologically on idolatry. Idolatry is a big no-no in Islam whereas it is an integral part of Hinduism. Hindus worship God in the shapes of different idols, they offer them flowers and incense, offer them food and water. This is totally unacceptable to the Muslims.
However, this is not the major reason as to why India broke into two parts in 1947. The real reason was ignorance and indifference towards each other. Ignorance comes when one chooses to ignore the other one. The Hindus and Muslims chose to ignore each other and remained completely in the dark about the religious and mythological stories of the other community.If you ask an average Hindu about the Muslims--he will tell you that Muslims are those who marry four wives, divorce their wives at the drop of a hat, cover up their women in black! He won't be able to tell you about the wealth of knowledge preserved in the holy Quran or the Hadees. He will not be able to tell you about the teachings and tenets of Islam. The reverse is also true, if you choose to ask a Muslim about Hindus.
In this connection a small incident comes to my mind. About 10 years back I had taken a bus journey in Kolkata. I got into a bus at the Central bus stand of Kolkata for going to my mohalla which is in the northern parts of Kolkata. There was a terrible traffic jam on the road that day and the journey from Esplanade to Lake Town (where I live) took more than 80 minutes. A bearded gentleman , in his late 50s, sat next to me and we entered into a friendly conversation for passing the time. He was a Muslim businessman hailing from western U.P. who had settled down in central Kolkata in connection with his business of electronic goods. Since the gentleman spoke in pure Urdu, I also responded in the same language---meticulously avoiding Hindi words. For 80 minutes we discussed on the teachings of Islam, Muslim culture and etiquette, different mythologies connected with Islam. The gentleman showed extraordinary warmth towards me. Towards the end of our journey as the bus approached Lake Town, I prepared to get down. He asked me where I lived. When I told him that I lived in Lake Town, he said,"Mian, how do you live here? This mohalla is full of Hindus only." I laughed and said, "Not a big problem, since I am a Hindu myself." He laughed out aloud and said,"Jenab, aap achha mazak kar lete hain! I have lived in Kolkata for 40 years and I know thousands of Hindus in this city. You could never be a Hindu---I can say that with confidence and from experience. They do not know a word about Islam. " When I insisted that I was a Hindu he looked at me with disbelief and muttered, "Never have I seen a Hindu like that!"
This trivial incident which I narrated indicates the great divide which existed between the two communities. " Bridge? That is a far cry. Even a ferry boat is no where in sight."This is how a famous poet had described the situation. As a result Pakistan was born in 1947. Now we live on two separate islands. An ocean of tears separates the two islands.
(Amit Kushari (IAS, Retd.) is former Financial Commissioner, J&K.Feedback at 09748635185 or email@example.com or twitter.com/amitkushari)
Lastupdate on : Wed, 9 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 9 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 10 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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