It’s time to look inwards and see what each of us can do to promote peace, rather than blaming our governments
I am writing this for those who know how to love. After my article in Aman ki Asha, “My Love Affair With Pakistan” (March 19, 2014), I received some wonderful emails from around the world especially Pakistan, some of which I’ll share here. I also want to address the question asked by a member of the Aman ki Asha Facebook group after Pakistan rejected the visa of an applicant from Rajasthan: “Don’t know how long we have to bear this?”
It is thanks to Aman ki Asha that an ordinary man like me has been able to express and write about my inner feelings, which many Indians and Pakistanis appreciated. I received so many emails, got so much love. Also I have a brother from the other side of the Wagah border, Pawan, who loves me unto death. He taught me the beauty of relations.
I got so much love that I started feeling tiny. People showered their love-filled blessings on me. I am sharing some of them here.
From Amber Gilani: “I have never done this before,… reading something in the paper and then writing to the person but ur article was so nice… so much the way i think across the divide. Seriously, why can’t we be friends. We, Indian and Pakistan are more the same…”
From Khalid Rashid: “…believe me I was really moved after reading and assessing your feelings about Pakistan. I very much appreciate your feelings. You will not believe it that though I AM MUCH OLDER THAN YOU BUT I HAVE SAME FEELINGS ABOUT INDIA. I HAVE IN MY HOUSE DISH TV WHERE I CAN SEE WHOLE OF INDIA BUT STILL THAT DESIRE TO MEET PERSONALLY IS MISSING. Like you I am interested in knowing people who live for centuries together but now they hate each other [not all]…
“I have visited almost 13 countries in the world except India. How sad, isn’t it?
“I shall send you few photos about PAKISTAN. I am sure you will like it. Nice to meet you. Give my regards to the family. Keep writing.”
He signed it: “Your Pakistani Uncle”
From Noor Ul Basar: “Assalam o Alaikum.. Pakistan n India must have brotherly relations… par pta ni hum ek dusry k itny khilaf q hn.. mri dua h k Allah in masaail ko durfrmae.. ameen.. apka article bht psnd aya :-)”
From Uzma Anjum: “I read your emotive article and was really touched by your feeling for us. Many people here also share these feelings.”
From Samar Iqbal Bhatti: “I felt as (if) it was all which I had in my conscience. …I vigorously second your thoughts… We share a lot of things on the basis of same origin. I watch Indian Punjabi Movies with great enthusiasm, being absorbed in the values of Punjab. Please continue to express your feelings via words; hopefully they would be heard at some stage.”
Mr. Rashid sent me some beautiful photos, but I don’t want to visit those hilly locations. I only want to visit my friends across the border once in my life. Or if that’s not possible, then at least my dearest and closest ever friend Pawan.
Two of the emails I received, I deleted right away. There was nothing very bad in them except some negative thoughts. They didn’t change my feelings but they changed my views about establishing peace. We blame the governments for their lack of interest in establishing peace. But we, the people are also guilty of that. If a fire breaks out in a dynamite store is the man starting it less guilty than the one who stored those explosives? There is a common saying in Punjabi, “Why blame the shopkeeper if you keep counterfeit money?”
Who bickers over race, religion, territory, language? It is we, the people, not the governments. Who starts riots? We ourselves kill each other. Then should we blame the leaders? There are those among us who are not keen on making the region peaceful.
It is said that people on both sides are like brothers. But how many of us really think so? Have we made any brother on other side? Have we ever offered a prayer for the wellness of our brother on other side? We tend to think that we are right, and the other is wrong. Remember the two cats fighting for a piece of bread, and what the monkey did with them? The question here is not who is the monkey. What is clear is that we are the cats.
We flare up on pinpoint issues. We take revenge of violence against minorities of the other country from our own countrymen. Has such “revenge” healed the wounds of those attacked on the other side? Do we not damage our own country when we do this? Honest earnings and love for your own country and countrymen are also part of patriotism. The minorities in Pakistan or India are the citizens of their country. What do we get by killing our own countrymen? Imagine what those go through who chose to stay in India or Pakistan after 1947 but are now threatened by the monster of the hate in the same land.
Let’s gather some courage. Let’s stop churning this mill of communal riots. It is not just the Wagah border that stands between us. To reach the other side, we have to break dozens of artificial Wagahs. When your neighbour’s home is on fire how can you live safely?
Remember Manto’s words: “Don’t say that a hundred thousand Hindus and a hundred thousand Muslims died. Say two hundred thousand people died.”
Neither Hindus nor Muslims who participated in such killings managed to dent the faith of the other. Religion, faith, dharma, conviction, belief, exist not in our body but in our soul. How can they be destroyed with daggers, knives and bullets?
Religious knots are meant to keep life smooth. But wouldn’t keeping religions in one’s own heart be more beneficial for humanity? Serving mankind is the biggest teaching of every religion. Wouldn’t that be the real way of serving the nation?
It’s a wonderful gift of my parents that I am an Indian. I have not done any extraordinary work for my country but I am proud to be an Indian, to say that Indians believe in humanity, and I know that my Pakistani friends and brothers do too. We are just doing our duty as good citizens when we talk about humanity. Let’s us all follow the path of humanity, the path of peace. Let love prevail, not hatred.
Manoj Sharma lives in Bhatinda, Punjab, India. Email: [email protected]