Yahi din hai jiske liye maine kati thee in ankhon mein raatein
Yahi seeli aab-e baqa, chasma noor hai, jalwa-e toor hai?
Issi ke liye woh suhane, madhur, rasbhare geet gaye they maine?
Urdu Poet, Akhtarul Iman in his poem Pandrah August (15th August) says, “Was it for this day that I had spent so many sleepless nights, for this damp water of eternity, this stream of light, this mountain of miracles? Was it for this, I had sung all those sweet, melodious songs…”
Situated on the main trade route between East and West, the land of the Indian subcontinent has been infused with years of poetry, Sufism, culture, and love.
There are tales of Hindu-Muslims fighting together for the freedom, cultivating the land together, eating together and more so praying together.
However, a line drawn by a British servant, who did not understand the region, has long divided Indians and Pakistanis since 1947 until now.
Cyril Radcliffe, a British servant landed in India just months before the British were about to hand over the power and leave the country.
He was tasked with dividing the Indian sub-continent based on Hindu majority areas and Muslim majority areas.
However, every constituency or every small district he divided, had a Muslim majority and small pockets of Hindus, Christians and Zoroastrians living together and vice- versa.
After independence, these people were forced to meet the reality of being on the wrong side of the border rather a wrong country.
They were forced to sell their decades-old homes, businesses, and shops to facilitate cross border movement.
All this leading to one of the biggest migrations the world had ever seen and the bloodiest as well!
My grandparents, both maternal and paternal are of Pakistani origins, to be accurate my mother’s family hails from Shikarpur in Sindh while my father’s family trace their roots back in Pakistan’s Hyderabad.
It is therefore not wrong to say that we all are children of India-Pakistan and as much as we love India, we must embrace Pakistan as well.
What they forced us to leave?
When partition happened Indians and Pakistanis were sleeping peacefully, knowing that the next day they would be living, breathing and praying in an independent country.
However, that never happened and when these people migrated they left behind their most important religious identities.
So let us understand what happens when people leave behind their religious identity.
Indians and Pakistanis consider their gods and idols as evidence of their existence.
They left behind their sacred worship places and since partition haven’t visited those places where they spent their childhood, playing, singing and praying.
Today these places on either side of the border are inaccessible due to heightened tensions between the two nuclear powers.
Kartarpur Sahib Darbar in Pakistan is the second most sacred pilgrimage place for Sikhs after Amritsar’s Golden Temple.
This darbar is the exact same place where Guru Nanak settled and assembled the Sikh commune after his missionary travels.
Today, no Sikh can go on pilgrimage to Kartarpur unless he gets a visa which can take up to 18 years for approval and must take a flight from Dubai to enter Pakistan
The Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, which was much in news lately, is nothing more but a raised podium on the Indian side with telescopes fixed that look into the Pakistani side.
This raised platform called Dera Baba Nanak was built in 2018 and is heavily guarded by Indian Border Forces
The telescopes provide a faded glance of Kartapur Sahib, which is close to four Kms away from the border.
Four Kms is virtually a walking distance for anyone who would want to see the origins of his/her belief and faith.
Both Indian and Pakistani government have agreed upon building a corridor that does not require a visa and allow full access to the Kartarpur Sahib Darbar, this initiative is still hanging.
This is one side of the story, Pakistanis also left behind their sacred places of worship in India, examples of which can be seen in bordering towns of Punjab.
The bordering town of Masanian, in Jalandhar district of Punjab, is home to Muslim shrine that is today being taken care of by the Sikhs.
These Sikhs are the younger generations of those people who lived together, prayed together, and virtually lived in the same houses.
My grandfather always narrates a story of a daring Pakistani who saved the man’s life.
He tells me that during partition related violence Muslims were looking to kill Hindus to balance out killings of Muslims in India.
His Muslim tenant in Pakistan along with his children sat in front of an agitated mob with swords in their hand.
When he refused to move away and said that to reach my grandfather the Muslim tenants and his children would have to be killed first, the mob backed off.
This instance is enough to say that humans care for humans and more so Muslims cared for Hindus and otherwise.
Aman Ki Asha
There is virtually no difference in the streets of Karachi and Old Delhi.
The same fragrance, food, shops, and businesses make both look like home.
Today, we share constant hate towards Pakistan due to their involvement in extremism but what we fail to understand is that these are only a handful of people who don’t want to see these two nations working together.
Today, I have friends in Pakistan who wish me on Diwali and I wish them on Eid.
Cricket fans change the atmosphere of any stadium where India plays Pakistan.
Nevertheless, with all this comes the flips side of nuclear weapons race, intense jingoism on borders and terrorism-counter terrorism methods to provoke each other.
I believe, Indians and Pakistanis can live together peacefully ever again if we do not fall for the line that a British civil servant drew.
Lastly, I would thank corporates like Google, Times of India for their initiatives depicting love and hope of Indians and Pakistanis
I would also urge our leaders to bridge the gap between places of faith and I would urge you all, my dear readers, to make friends with the like-minded people across the border.
Guess the place: Karachi or Old Delhi?