This article was first Published on 08/13/2016 11:19 pm at – : https://theghousediary.com/?s=Reflections+on+India+and+Pakistan%E2%80%99s+Independence+Day
I wish a very Happy Independence day to the people of Pakistan and India, celebrating their independence on August 14th and 15th respectively. This essay calls on you to reflect on your relationship with each other.
As an American Citizen, I will do what is good for my country. One of the things is to build relationships with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and all the nations that America has relationships with. What if Hillary sends me as an Ambassador to one of these nations? What if it is you? The idea is to ready ourselves to handle a situation like that. I have zero bias and I will do my job to keep America’s interests at my heart, indeed, Hillary has known to read my write ups on Pluralism in politics and religion over the last eight years, and I hope she continues to do so.
A few among us from India and Pakistan still carry the anti-neighbor bigotry; and yet shamelessly talk about the bigotry of others. Somehow, America has not Americanized those few. It is time for them to see the beauty of freedom, and feel American and act American.
Your homeland will always hold the status of your mother. If you were born there, you have consumed her air, water and food along with its culture, you are shaped by her, and she runs in your veins. You certainly owe your gratitude to her. One’s loyalty to mother should always be cherished and the flag of each nation must be honored.
America does it!
There is something magical about America that we all lovingly subscribe to, and that is an inexplicable pluralistic culture that America has evolved into. Back home, each one of us faced religious, caste, social, and linguistic and other silly barriers. When we start seeing fellow Americans treat every American with dignity and respect, we could not resist singing songs about America, how beautiful it is.
Look at our marriage customs and rituals, they are Americanized! Look at our daily living habits, they are Americanized. Look at our political leanings; they are either Republican or Democratic. What is it about us that is not American?
My pilgrimage to America
I was never biased towards anyone, my parents raised me to respect every human. If I am disrespectful to another human, my Dad said, I would be disrespectful to God and the systems that created us all. While in College, I read Lincoln’s statement, “With malice towards none” that did it to me. Those words are etched on my heart and my mind forever.
My first encounter with a Pakistani American was in 1993 in Dallas, Texas, it was Syed Talib, who invited me to his home for Eid celebrations. My first Eid “Seviyaan (vermicelli dish) ” in the United States was at his home. We have remained friends since then.
In 1993, I launched a news paper called Asian News. It had a page dedicated to news from BINPS; that is Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It covered events of all the nations and wrote about the essence of Festivals, which I continue even today between Huffington Post, Dallas Morning news and The Ghouse Diary.
Somewhere around that time Nadir Durrani started working with me and his wife Maliha Durrani became my sister. For the first time in my life someone other than my parents brought me a set of new clothes to wear on the Eid, and that I remember it on every Eid. Today, I know at least three thousands Pakistanis in person and several thousand on the net.
There was a resistance from a few Indians about writing positive things about Pakistan, a group actually approached me and offered money to bash Pakistan and assured me that my paper will make big time money. I told them, I would rather shut down the paper than make the money on hate, and I did shut down the paper in 2000. There were a few Pakistani owned stores who trashed my paper as it carried the map of India, showing Kashmir as India’s territory, as an Indian that is the only map I have known. Then there was a Muslim Yellow Pages directory that refused to place an ad because my paper carried pictures of different deities from different religions. In all, there were 10 hateful Indians beyond redemption and 5 Pakistanis in the same boat in Dallas. I wish and pray that they find freedom from ill-will, and if they do, they will hang on to it. There is nothing like freedom.
1996 saw the commencement of the first Desi commercial Radio called Asian News Radio and it was all an inclusive radio – perhaps it was the first Desi talk show radio in America, we had the BINPS (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) news, talked about every religious festival, and additionally I moderated 720 hours of talk on Religion, all the beautiful religions.
Each day my team shared a different aspect of the subcontinent from the cultural, geographic, ethnic, cuisine, clothing, cultural, singing to politics to national heroes of all the three nations with identical history. I had a great team to do the full hour of program with Sandhya doing shehar ka chakkar, Tamim doing the News, Gayathri focusing on literature and Najma reciting the poems and I did the talk show part of it and played Golden oldies and Golden melodies.
One of the things I cherished most was our August program. Every morning from August 1st through 15th we had a special program on the Subcontinent. We talked about different cities, cultures, cuisines, history of the entire subcontinent. On August 14th, we played all the Pakistani National songs for two hours straight, and on the 15th we played all the Indian National songs.
Hear this out – on 14th, I called out on Indians to come on the air and sing Pakistani national songs and on the 15th, Pakistanis sang the Indian national songs. That was the most joyous times of my life to see the spirit of being one; they dropped all the pettiness and celebrated each other’s Independence Day. What a joy it was to hear the goodwill sprouting from the lips of fellow Subcontinentians for each other.
The Partition was difficult and intense – with people moving from one land to the other and vice versa, perhaps it was the greatest human migration in a single month ever. Of course it came with massive suffering – people killing and butchering each other on both sides. Unless we both learn to acknowledge that the suffering and infliction of misery was mutual, we will continue to harbor ill-will and die with it.
The most important thing is listening. I have listened to the tragic stories from several of my Pakistani friends, the torture and butchery they withstood during the partition, and have heard first hand from many of my Indian friends how their sisters and mothers were raped in front of them. The story is same on both sides, man becomes animal in distress, and religions don’t matter to the beast in those moments of insecurity.
I urge my fellow Subcontinentians, whether they are Pakistani Americans, Indian Americans, or Bangladeshi Americans to acknowledge the suffering but never reduce or discount other’s suffering. Kindly hold the temptations to inject ill-will in the hearts of your children, let them live freely and aspire for better relations between the two nations.
On my part, I am blessed to have so many friends in all spheres of life including Pakistanis, I am a life member of the Pakistan Society of North Texas, and almost joined the Pakistan American Association of Texas before I moved to Washington. I also run the Dallas Pakistanis yahoogroups for the last 14 years with nearly 1000 members. Of course, I have done a lot more to my Indian community and have been a big part of it. I am a life member of the India Association of North Texas, and a Life member of International Hindi Association. I manage the Dallas Indians yahoo groups with 1800 members. After I moved to Washington, all of them are running on auto-pilot with occasional notes from me.
On this Independence Day, may I ask you to free yourselves from ill-will, malice and bias towards each other; at least don’t poison your children’s hearts. That is indeed true freedom. When our hearts are filled with goodwill, everything is possible.
I wish a very happy independence day to both the Pakistani and Indian friends.
I invite you to consider joining or speaking at the Karachi Interfaith Conference for peace. The information is at Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rekindling-pakistans-islamic-heritage_us_57acf2fbe4b0e7935e047a5a
Dr. Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. More about him in 65 links at www.MikeGhouse.net