Over the past few days, Indian actress Ramya has been under fire for speaking in favour of our neighbours. So atrocious were her words that there is a case of “Sedition” filed against her. Her crime: To speak a truth that is unwanted in the Indian diaspora currently.
I am a young person and I have been studying Indo Pak relations for almost a decade now to a point where I decided that if I had to write I would write on Indo- Pak theme just to ensure people knew the other lesser known and humane side of Pakistan and Pakistanis. My novel Silenced by love also highlighted the same. As someone who is a firm believer in world peace, my question to the fanatics here is, Are we any better than the extremists on the other side if we have to imprison our own citizens for expressing their view points? Has the world’s largest democracy become so intolerant that now we need to think of repercussions each time we open our mouth? I love my country but I will not tolerate my country being ranked as one full of bigots who spend time that could constructively be used to strengthen my country’s future, on trivia that could have severe repercussions in the future. India has always been a land of peace and peace loving people. Allowing such ruckus to take fore when we have a plethora of impending issues within is immature at the very least. This is a grave matter of concern because we still enjoy the freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
Now unlike Ramya who met some lovely strangers in Pakistan and hit off on a good note, I have a lot many friends in Pakistan living across the globe. Yes. You read right. I have friends who very much like my own countrymen are simple common people like you and me with aspirations and dreams. They too want to meet and greet their Indian friends. They too dream of seeing India someday. In a recent conversation with a young girl from Pakistan I learnt that she wants to work for Indian films some day! Call it a fantasy or a dream, the very fact that someone sitting on the other side of that barbed fencing is still talking about India in the good way, must give us a cue that things can get better if we too reciprocate. I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of meeting a popular international photographer from Pakistan and all I can say is I was in awe of his talent.
Indeed our countries have been afflicted with acts of extremism. I have never denied it, nor will I. In fact I will even highlight here that due to all the tension that is brewing between the two countries I have not been able to procure a Pakistani visa. But that doesn’t mean I begin to believe that Pakistan is the home of Hades. I would like to question those who take on the holier than thou stance as Indians; how much have you talked and discussed and worked constructively on dealing with the Naxalite issues that has been a far greater wound to the Indian soil. And that’s just one of many issues that range right from famine to floods and man-made disasters. Here we are, judging a woman for expressing her opinion, all guns blazing and yet when the time comes for a constructive debate on the things that need our immediate and urgent attention, neither the media, nor the government nor the people seem to be doing much.
Just as how a lot of Indians have a lot of terrible memories of the wars between the two countries, I have also interacted with Pakistanis who have bittersweet memories of India. They have not allowed the hatred to seep into the next generation which is why I have friends on both sides of the border.
I don’t dream of Indo-Pak peace I know I am working towards making it happen. And I am cent per cent sure that if we allow ourselves to give Peace a chance instead of going 5 steps ahead and 10 steps behind we can make a genuine difference. After all, can you switch your neighbor from the continent? This isn’t an idealist’s opinion. I’m a realist. If the roof of your home is leaking will you not work on it? In the same way if there are loopholes in the peace talks can we not as citizens, bridge the gap that politics and history has never been able to?
And for those who still want to rave and rant on historical facts and figures; let bygones be bygones because until we hold on to the bitterness of the past we cannot look at sweetness in the future. You have to give peace a chance. Terrorists are a common enemy. If both countries work together, there is no telling that they become invincible. But as long as we give impetus to petty minds and the media blows it up multi- fold you can kiss peace good bye!
If you really want to know if Ramya’s statement is right or not: Make a Pakistani friend. Thank us later.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NEWSD and NEWSD does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.