Yaqoob Khan Bangash, the chair of the history department at Forman Christian College in Lahore, is a brave man, his anguish written in every word of his piece just published in this newspaper, telling all minorities to leave Pakistan. So, here is something that I have contemplated for some time: if Pakistan’s minorities — whether Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Ahmadi, Shia, Deobandi, Dalit, gay, straight or female — want to leave Pakistan and don’t know where to go, well, they must be welcome in India.
Does that comment make me an intelligence agent, in the pay of India’s RAW or some other outfit? Does it constitute a breach of faith, an anticipated violation of a visitor’s visa to one of the most beautiful places on earth and some of the best friends I will ever have? Is this interference in the internal affairs of another country?
I suppose in a relationship that is always so tense as that between India and Pakistan, all you readers would be entitled to invoke any of the above. And I would reject each one of your arguments because I believe that millions of Pakistanis need to be supported for believing that Pakistan must become a moderate, secular nation. Mr Bangash has been brave about going public with regard to the creation of Pakistan, especially because as a historian, he is familiar with the whys and wherefores of the past.
There are those in India, who say even now that if Jawaharlal Nehru had abdicated the throne in favour of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Partition might have been avoided. Frankly, in the light of all that we know now, I doubt that very much. If Partition had been delayed by another few years, it may have been messier than it actually was.
But it is the present with which both our sides are concerned. The Shia massacres in Quetta and the mob rampage of the Christian colony in Lahore are a wake-up call to us in India, not because anti-Dalit fury, in the case of the Lahore Christians is surprising, but because caste has clearly much deeper roots than religion. Of course, sociologists know this well, but to the rest of us mortals, the experiment that is Pakistan is also so interesting because it seeks to throw people of various denominations under one flag, that of an Islamic republic. It is said that one of the reasons that Shia Hazaras in Balochistan are being massacred is because it will be the Shia Hazaras of Afghanistan who will stand in the way of a triumphal Taliban — supported by the Pakistani Army — that will march towards Kabul post-US withdrawal in 2014.
Perhaps, this is all poppycock. So, we look towards Pakistanis for enlightenment, not only to understand why Shias are being especially chosen as targets, but also because their killings have a huge impact on India’s Muslims. The truth is that when Shias are plucked off, it has an impact in Srinagar and Lucknow and Sitapur and countless other Indian towns and villages.
To return to my earlier argument: the Indian government should offer a homecoming-of-sorts to all Pakistanis of all shades of opinion, religion and denomination, especially if they are persecuted in their own country. We offer it to Sri Lankan Tamils, to Myanmarese, to the Bangladeshis, to Maldivians, to Afghans, so why not Pakistanis?
My claim to being critical about what’s going in Pakistan today is because of my claim to several identities, including a minority one. (After all, many more women are killed in India at all stages of their lives because they are female, than in Pakistan.) It is only when all of us South Asians — Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Bhutanese, Maldivians, et al — feel they must reorder the region in the name of both God and justice and speak up, just like Mr Bangash, that the change will begin. We must be the change we want to see.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2013.
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Its extremely unfortunate that such a simple and rather humane suggestion receives such negative comments. It makes me wonder why we aren't ready for this grand gesture and that why after so many decades us Pakistani's cant appreciate the help we most certainly need. Even if our ego's or our love for our country doesn't permit us to cross the border that has for our entire lives defined us, why can we not simply appreciate this!
While it makes me super happy that there people like you who can think beyond these physical boundaries and cultural differences, Jyoti, from the comments above, I think its safe to say, practically speaking we are STILL not ready for this: neither do the Pakistani's deserve this act of kindness and nor are the Indians ready to move on.
As much I appreciate the matter-of-fact opinions of Indians (even though a lot of time it's painting millions of people with the same brush), I don't know anyone in Pakistan who is willing to migrate to India. The "welcoming" attitude of Indians on this forum aside! :) One factor that people overlook about the root of violence in Pakistan is the concept of ownership of this land in her people. It's a unplanned consequence of our education system and the "brainwashing" that Indians like to call it. I don't entirely disagree but it's somewhat of a silver lining for us. Frustrating at times because our longing never ends no matter where we live. But that's one reason west Pakistan is still a single entity even with the unimaginable turmoil that the country has been going through. Just like Indians would not like to move to Pakistan, Pakistanis feel the same way. And frankly people who do end up migrating mostly prefer Europe and America because of easier social integration and opportunities.
Europe and other countries are trying to reduce their exposure to Muslims for obvious reasons and counter-intuitively the learned author wants India to do quite the opposite.
Bad idea. If minorities are asked to leave Pakistan, then the extremists win. Case of Badami bagh is utterly shameful. We had plenty of time to stop the mob. But we did not. From now on, it should be made clear that any human rights violations in Pakistan will result in UN action against all those who are responsible for the very protection of the minorities.
It will be sad to see that Pakistani leaders are treated like African war lords, but that may be the only way to stop the religious and ethnic madness so prevalent in our beautiful country.
@Harsh Srivastava: Sir that is why you are not an editor any where.
"We offer it to Sri Lankan Tamils, to Myanmarese, to the Bangladeshis, to Maldivians, to Afghans, so why not Pakistanis?"
Ms Malhotra, many of us admire Mr Bangash's efforts as much as you do, but it does not lead us to absurd conclusions you have arrived at.
We cannot offer what we or anyone else can offer to Sri Lankan Tamils, to Myanmarese, to the Bangladeshis, to Maldivians, to Afghans, because they are not Pakistanis. They are not a nation that has formed itself in opposition to India, that has wasted all its existence persecuting, defaming, and abusing Hindus, that denies the every existence of Indian civilization, and sees everything in terms of Islam and Islamic presence.
Ms Malhotra, we, your co-citizens are unwilling to have more of such people around us. You can be the change you want, and shift your base to Lahore. Who knows - you might actually change all of Pakistan yourselves.
@Insaan: I haven't heard of Urdu speaking migrants returning to India but I doubt native Pakistanis would want to go to Bangladesh or India or Sri Lanka because it is just too foreign. It's odd that you would welcome Pakistan's minorities into India since you should first ask them what they think. You may not know this, but most of my Shia friends and Ahmadiyas do not yearn to leave Pakistan or go to India - they are fighting for their just rights in Pakistan. Most Sunnis, myself included support our sisters and brothers of all minorities but it just the tyranny of a minority that must be overcome. You may fail to see the sarcasm in a piece by Mr. Bangash warning minorities to leave but you should understand that Pakistani Muslim minorities see themselves as Muslims too, regardless if some bigots don't accept their sects. They want to see a prosperous and developing Pakistan as much as the next citizen.
the Indian government should offer a homecoming-of-sorts to all Pakistanis of all shades of opinion, religion and denomination, especially if they are persecuted in their own country. We offer it to Sri Lankan Tamils, to Myanmarese, to the Bangladeshis, to Maldivians, to Afghans, so why not Pakistanis?.....especially the Indian born!..... this is a good step and it should be reciprocated by the Pakistanis. If this is implemented then we will see movement of people from both sides for personal reasons!!...why not?
Noble and generous offer!!! I agree with the author. We really do need to reorganize and shed our differences and embrace our diversity! Kudos to you for your generosity.
@g antanu: "..are we living in clouds?"
What do you mean by "we"? since when you became a legal immigrant??
"but india is no US."
The Stating-the-obvious award goes to..!
India should implement such selective policies. Anything other than letting only Hindus and Sikhs is impractical.
@Uzma Ausaf How many of Pakistanis like Afghan refugees?
India should offer the Parsi community to move to India. Parsis are very small in number and Parsi community can help them in India with minimum government intervention. Parsis have contributed a lot to Indian society and the only reason they stayed in Pakistan because they were in Karachi when partition happened. Same is true with Goan Christians in Karachi. Wrong place at the wrong time. Many Keralite Muslims went back to Kerala from Karachi.
Yup. That is cruel especially when people are trying to get out of Pakistan alive.
One indian writter can make a big diffrence and now its clear who is more bigoted and libral.
@ Author see how tolerant & friendly your nation is!! you have just written a BLOG & they tell you to go to Pakistan!! Imagine if you have taken some practical steps ,what could have been their response!!!!
Talk about Apni pair pe kulhadi marna!
India has a lot of its own problems, I don't think importing some more is going to help in any way. There are many problem in Pakistan today, however, even the best of them spit venom at the name of India, such is the degree of systematic brain washing that has been done to Pakistanis. I do have sympathy for them, but people from Ahmadi and Shia community, when in a position of power during the Pakistan movement were eager participants in hating a "Hindu India" to demand a separate piece of land for "Muslims" of the sub-continent. They have drawn the thin red line on the sand by funding and promoting Jinnah. They have to live with their choice, which they willingly and enthusiastically made 65 years ago. They are reaping what they have sown! If they want to redeem themselves, they have to do it in that same piece of land itself, unfortunately. India is a generous country, but I hardly think it is rich enough to support a flood of refugees. This column although humane is essentially naive, which is not they way world works in real life.
Correct. But not by inviting them to India. They need to stay in their own ountry and improve it.
In hindsight, Thank Durga Maa.
They are much smaller in number, habe an affinity, as opposed to enmity, for India and have shown no inclination to break up India so far. Pakistanis, on the other hand...
Wasn't the partition of India done in the name of God and justice for Muslims? When will you learn?
Please Lady, not chistians or women! Most converted to christianity because they were hindus from the low caste in the first place and even as christians they are under pressure to convert back to hinduim. The women cannot take the risk of getting gang raped.
@Toheed Niaz: I was curious about the link you posted and went to the link.
It's a Pakistani website hence there is no way to verify the accuracy of the information contained therein.
I would believe you if you had posted a credible link as this link is certainly biased and tilted in favor of Pakistan.
@BruteForce: but india is no US. ...it doesn't have the power to to act like US. ..are we living in clouds?
@TightPatloon: Pakistanis can always go to arab countries who see them as servant class or go to Somalia where they can work as Jihadis.
Some Pakistanis who have relatives in India have already started to live in India. Pakistanis should live in Pakistan which is a land of pure.
(After all, many more women are killed in India at all stages of their lives because they are female, than in Pakistan.) You add this line to please Pakistani reader. Can you site source of you information % wise not by number. If you heart bleed so much for condition of Pakistan then why don't you move there to change condition up there? Your core thought are, to bash India in every column you write so you can get paid. Today column is complete waste of time to read as it does not make any sense at all. If you give this column to fifth grader they will dissect it beyond your imagination. I suggest please try it once in any Delhi school & publish result with honesty. ET Moderator............ Singh from USA
@Robert Kharsing: I find your comment mature and insightful. . @BruteForce: Christians have several Christian majority countries. . Unfortunately there is no concept of ummah in Christianity. There are only 6 or so mostly tiny Christian countries including the Vatican. What you are saying is akin to saying that some Hindus in India can migrate to Mauritius because it has many Hindus and a PM of Indian descent. On the other hand, countries in the West give asylum to refugees regardless of religious belief on a case-by-case basis depending on need. There are some from India who during the Khalistan movement received asylum in the US/Canada.
@sadhana: No one will everwill think of stepping into Pakistan. There is nothing PAK left except in the name of the country.
@sadhana: Move to Pakistan and get slaughtered. No sane person will travel to Pakistan. Its a country where demons have made their abode.
@TightPatloon: Ask your PCB why they want to play india, ask many Pakistani actors, actress and singers who are dying to be part of Bollywood. Look at yourself and us, not long ago, our countries currency value was equal and now our country currency value is almost double than that of you country currency. almost every global country wants to have their presence in India and look at your country.
@uzma ausaf: Injustice prevails at each and every country with the difference being at some countires it is more and in some countires it is less. In the case of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the sufferings are on a very large scale, calling itself an Islamic nation, one wonders why so many muslims are butchered by muslims on the streets of this Islamic nation. Non islamic nations are amused at thehorrific incidents happening in this Islamic nation where muslims never feel safe doubting whether the fellow muslim offering prayers in a mosque is a suidcide bomber bent on killing all his fellow muslims stading in prayer.
@Toheed: Muslims across the world are less suffering that those muslims in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. What I meant in my reply to Nadeem is "First stop the sufferings of muslims in Pakistan and then think about stopping the sufferings of muslims in other nations". first set things at your home right then proceed for others welfare.
''It is said that one of the reasons that Shia Hazaras in Balochistan are being massacred is because it will be the Shia Hazaras of Afghanistan who will stand in the way of a triumphal Taliban''
I doubt this to be true. It appears that the influence and support of Iran for the clergy of Shia Hazara's is no less then the Saudi Wahabi influence on Sunni clergy and its armed wings. This Iranian influence explains the intolerance of Sunni radical groups towards the Hazara's. This is despite the fact that Hazara's have never been violent (in Quetta at least).
Post 2014, Pashtun nationalism is still the most important political force that can stand in way of Taliban triumph. But that is only if regional actors wanted to resolve the Afghan issue politically. Militarily..... Its going to be another civil war in which Hazara's would not have the military strength to resist Talibans. Neither in Quetta, nor in Bamyan.
@ Brute Force: Nehru and Sardar Vallabhai Patel were largely responsible for the creation of Pakistan. Jinnah didn't want to divide India, he only wanted Muslims to have more power in a united India after independence, but Nehru and Patel did not agree. In 1946, there was a government composed of both Congress and Muslim League (Liaquat Ali Khan. first P.M. of Pakistan was the finance minister in that government, and abolished the tax on salt). Unfortunately, Nehru thought an independent Pakistan wouldn't last more than 6 months, so he didn't let that government work. When Pakistan became independent, and got arms from the U.S., Nehru used that as an excuse to prevent settlement of the Kashmir dispute by a plebiscite, as decided by the U.N. The rest is history.
Jinnah and Nehru have two divergent visions of Pakistan and India respectively.I think Pakistan and India have grow up to be mature nation after some many long year and India seems to be slightly ahead in the friendly race.
Madam,If you allow people from Pakistan into India then you will be forced to wear a burkha and you would be converted to a "Begum" if you don't agree you will be chased away from India.My opinion is that Indians should stop having any contacts with the bigoted Pakistanis.By nature many Pakistanis are Bigoted and they live in the medieval age of Kalifs and Kalifat and want to implement their form of Wahhabi sharia on other non-muslims. Sorry if my comments are offending any one,this is what I perceive about the majority powerful Pakistani,I hope my perception is wrong,but I don't find any thing which defeats my hope.
Ms. Malhotra, I think you should take up Ali Tanoli's generous offer and move to Pakistan - PERMANENTLY. And then you would have all the time and space to work on the change that you want.
@Rana Amjad: "Blunder & arrogance of Nehru compelled Jinnah to go for Pakistan otherwise we all would have been much better off living together like we were doing since thousand of years." Nehru indeed was a blunderbuss and arrogant and an all-knowing fool but it would be entirely wrong to contend that he made Jinnah go for Pakistan. Jinnah and his Muslim League put such conditions that were fundamentally antithetical to spirit of Democracy that no one could have accepted those. If his conditions had been accepted, we would have all been in a soup. So, fortuitously for India, we separated and even today, except for a few like this author, we consider ourselves blessed. You have problems living alongside any non-Muslims anywhere in the world. And when you don't find any non-Muslims to pick up enmity with, you invent non-Muslims by designating your other sects as non-Muslim so your pugnacity may find some satiety. No, thank you very much and please stew in your own juices!
@ Indian: "A Pakistani Hindu boy cannot proudly tell his mother or father that he’ll one day be the President or Prime Minister of Pakistan". He cannot be the head of state (president), but he can be prime minister (although it is extremely unlikely). Similarly, even though it is highly improbable, he can be the chief justice (like Rana Bhagwandas was sometime back). He can also be chief of the army staff, there is nothing in the Constitution against it. It should be remembered that the Constitution in its present form was not given to us by Jinnah, but by Z. A. Bhutto under pressure from religious scholars.
@uzma ausaf @Nadeen well said Sorry to say madam I disagree with your argument.we cannot accommodate bigoted communities of Pakistan inside India.I think Nehru didn't agree for Jinnah ruling united India for the right reasons,because India would have turned into the present day Pakistan as "Islamic Republic of India" and Hindus and other religious minorities and sects would have been tortured as in the case of Pakistan.In Hind sight we were saved by Nehru and Sardar Vallahbai Patel.
Nehru did the right thing. Saved India. He is my hero. He knew the kind of people the Muslim Leaguers were, they showed their true colour soon after Partition was finished.
Nehru loved his India too much to see it go to the dogs. He is the architect of modern India. The institutions established by him are seeing us through even today.
Dare not speak ill of this man.
Ms Jayoti and like her many Dehli residents migrated from Lahore and Pindi areas of present pakistan and we understand there feelings and wellcome them in pakistan ... any time they want, from lahore to Abbotabad.
@ Rana Amjad.... No thank you... you guys deserve what u got.. namely Pakistan. Please stay there
What a logic ? If Muslims are not safe in Pakistan that means .They shall suffer everywhere ?
Jyoti, you trooper. Your columns always convey a sense of humanism. We're caught in a trans-boundary conflict, where we be Pakistanis and you be Indian. Perhaps we won't take your offer up, but we will always recognize the strength and heroism of your words. I recommend you write poetry on the side.
Blunder & arrogance of Nehru compelled Jinnah to go for Pakistan otherwise we all would have been much better off living together like we were doing since thousand of years.
@Nadeen: First make muslims safe in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
@Nadeen: Pakistan, on the other hand, can offer asylum to all Muslims / Christians who are targeted in India by the majority. Dude, you must be joking. India had to come in and rescue your majority population itself, mainly comprised of muslims not too far long back. Things have only got worse since then.
Are Muslims / Dalits or minorities safe in India. Pakistan, on the other hand, can offer asylum to all Muslims / Christians who are targeted in India by the majority.
"If Partition had been delayed by another few years, it may have been messier than it actually was."
That part is true. No doubt. When 25% of the population asks for separation, its hard to stop. Besides, retaining that large number of Muslims was not such a good idea. Especially in hindsight.
The problem starts when you say India has been generous and should be generous to Pakistani refugees as well.
Shias have neighbouring Iran. Christians have several Christian majority countries. Sikhs and Hindus have no one. India is their only hope, the last hope.
I am in favor for selective asylum status for Hindus and Muslim of Pakistan in India. Anything other than that is not practical.
Just like US rejects Visas with Muslim names, we can do the same. Nobody has called US un-secular. India should not fear it either.
I dont know what is the problem of you people ,why can't u be a bit rational when you write an article ?? Can't you see what happens in india to Musilms ? Please go through this article before you ask any minorities any favor " http://rupeenews.com/2012/01/condition-of-indian-muslims-in-current-day-india-justice-saachar-report/ " It clearly explains how much "secular" you are . What about the bollywood king SRK saying in the Outlook Turning Points magazine, Shahrukh said “I sometimes become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India.” “There have been occasions when I have been accused of bearing allegiance to our neighbouring nation rather than my own country — this even though I am an Indian, whose father fought for the freedom of India. Rallies have been held where leaders have exhorted me to leave and return what they refer to my original homeland.” you article is just funnier in this context .!! Stop mocking yourself .Be rational !!
Respected Ms. Jyoti and then? Do you think it is the solution? What about those suffering injustice in India The SRK's , the rape victims, the low caste minorities? AND The Muslims? should they also move to a safer place? please elaborate !!
@Robert Kharsing: Agree completely.
"if Pakistan’s minorities — whether Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Ahmadi, Shia, Deobandi, Dalit, gay, straight or female — want to leave Pakistan and don’t know where to go, well, they must be welcome in India. Does that comment make me an intelligence agent,....."
Nope, makes you more of a wacko...
We offer it to Sri Lankan Tamils, to Myanmarese, to the Bangladeshis, to Maldivians, to Afghans, so why not Pakistanis? We offer no such thing. We have accepted some refugees from these countries, and we have accepted some from Pakistan as well. Heck, we even have internal refugees like the Kashmiri Pandits - will you please resettle them before issuing a blanket external invite? Pls let nations that can afford to take in refugees continue doing so and let us work on improving the lot of our people. It is only when all of us South Asians — Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Bhutanese, Maldivians, et al — feel they must reorder the region in the name of both God and justice and speak up, just like Mr Bangash, that the change will begin. Why not Asia? Why not the entire developing world? Are you telling me that Bhutan will not improve until Pakistanis stop killing Hazaras and burning Christian homes or that Nepal cares two hoots about what happens in the Maldives? South Asia is merely a geographical entity. Pls focus within our share or else go and enlighten souls on the other side of the border before they target their minorities instead of bringing the persecuted ones over here.
Pakistanis might be offended by this column and by what I say, but they have to face it:
In 2013, ideas like the Two-Nation Theory, the idea of a country "for Muslims" and, as in Pakistan today, the existence of an Islamic state that legally, officially and constitutionally discriminates against 3% of its citizens because they are not non-Ahmadi Muslims, are not things that any decent, humane, civilized person can or should support.
A Pakistani Hindu boy cannot proudly tell his mother or father that he'll one day be the President or Prime Minister of Pakistan. His religion disqualifies him from being eligible to achieve those positions. How inhumane is that?
Pakistan was built on the premise that if two communities can't live together, they must partition the country. I wonder why they won't follow the same logic and grant separate homelands to Baloch's and to Shia's and other minorities.
Ms. Malhotra, don't you think that we are committing a grave injustice to humanity by restricting our generosity to only the Pakistanis? I would think that the govt of India should offer shelter to not only the pakistanis, but also Haitians, Burundis, Eskimos, Aborigines, Maoris.. I am sure other groups can also be included in this list.
That's rich coming from a country where a person involved in genocide (Modi) lives free.
ET must be commended to publish such an article. If I were an editor at ET,,wouldn't have published it. How can an Indian get this sort of an article get it published? This is clearly undermining the Pakistani state/society.
Please Madam, not so loudly. Hafiz Saeed is listening.
Ms Malhotra has failed to analyze the problem and is offering a childish suggestion that would only serve to transfer Pakistan's self created problems to India encouraging it to become even more adventurous. India as a neighbor may have to offer sanctuary to the refugees who somehow find their way in and are able to prove, in individual cases, they are facing persecution. But it can not and should not open itself to all those who are only seeking to escape Pakistan's turmoil but would never be able to be happy in India and loyal to it as is evident by the leading role of Ahmadis and Shias in the partition during the 1940s. Above all, India should take the cases of Christians, Sikhs and Hindus and others who are facing persecution before appropriate international fora vigorously. The UN must also interfere openly and loudly for such a willful violation of UN Charter by a member country. This is a problem of the world, not of India alone. In solving Pakistan's problems we should not be foolish enough to compound our own existing communal problems.
Very well said Jyoti , we must become the change we want to see........for every common citizena live and let live sense must prevail,,.,,..
noble intentions or height of naivety?
If minorities in Pakistan are not able to live there, then they should ask for a seperate country. That way they are going to be safe and happy and right groups in Pakistan will be equally happy to get rid of them. I don't think common Pakistanis will object to that as they have chosen a similar path 65 years back, so giving the same chance to minorities in Pakistan should not be a big challenge..
Stupid article, does not make any sense!!
"We must be the change we want to see."
It is not clear what change do you want Indians to be, to see a change in Pakistan? You can however see change if you move to Pakistan and change yourself there. God speed.
Pakistanis dont need the generosity of Indians. There are many other nations in the world which can offer Pakistan more than India can dream of