Am I Pakistani, or am I Indian?

Published: August 15, 2014
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The writer is an undergraduate student in political science at LUMS

The writer is an undergraduate student in political science at LUMS

My existence has been wrought by a perpetual state of identity crisis that reaches its pinnacle on August 14 every year. Before the green flags flying at full mast on the flagpoles lining Karachi’s Clifton beach, fluttering atop government buildings and state cars; the green fairy lights; the green paper banners speckled with crescents and stars — the patriotic spirit within me is pervaded with guilt that stems from a cloistered, well-hidden shard of my soul that struggles to identify with Pakistan, that yearns for family and loved ones that have been wrenched apart by a border, which has broken and battered the hearts of many.

My family identifies themselves as speakers of Urdu, natives of Lucknow. Its choice of identity tends to raise eyebrows within our parochial society and sends muffled whispers rippling through crowds. What throws me into a bigger conundrum — and is perhaps, the root cause of my state of disarray — is my mother’s cancelled Indian passport. Born and bred in Mumbai, she married my father — a Pakistani — in 1990 and moved to Karachi where she surrendered her Indian citizenship once I was born in 1994.

Our preference for an identity that binds us to our Indian roots is primarily associated with the fact that unlike most Indian families that migrated to Pakistan at or post-Partition, my family voluntarily chose not to. And although my great-grandfather, Chaudhry Azimuddin Ashraf of Barabanki, was closely associated with Maulana Abdul Bari of Firangi Mahal, who had ties with the Muslim League, the need to migrate to Pakistan never arose, primarily because, in the words of my paternal grandmother, “We were content and prosperous. Migrating to Pakistan only meant losing all our land, wealth and prestige and starting all over again on a blank slate.”

More than three-quarters of my extended family resides in India and the rest are abroad. We travel to India almost every year and struggle our way through the prolonged and tedious visa process for Pakistanis. In 2003, we endured a nine-hour transit in Dubai with a three-month-old in tow, as direct flights between India and Pakistan had been cancelled and our only option was to travel to Delhi via Dubai — a two-hour flight elongated and brutally stretched into a 24-hour journey. Since the age of three, I have watched my mother painstakingly fill out Indian visa forms every year. And year after year, she faces the challenges and invisible barriers that make travelling to the country where she was born and bred, an urge in despair. I have seen her dejection when she talks about her severed mobility to where her twin and younger sisters live and meet often and miss her as much as she misses them, and to where her aging mother resides alone in a palatial home where once peals of melodious laughter filled the summer air and now, emptiness sinks into nooks and corners — the tormenting consequence of distance.

For my family, the border between India and Pakistan has borne nothing but tears and heartaches. Our identity as Pakistanis has been an impediment to family unions and our choice to identify ourselves as speakers of Urdu and natives of Lucknow — holding on to the fraying strings that represent our past, almost refusing to come to terms with reality — is an element of insignificant consequence.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (97)

  • Every Pakistani was an Indian !
    Aug 15, 2014 - 2:01AM

    Beautiful write up ! Too bad that Pakistan decided to walk away from 5000 years old civilization and become a cheap imitation of Arabs. The choice to pursue their own sub-continental culture and civilization might have resulted in less hostile relations with India.We are the biggest losers of the 1947 partition in every sense of the word. Entire social fabric of the society was shred to pieces during and after the partition. Writer’s story and the state of non-Muslims (not that the Muslims are thriving in the fortress of Islam) in our society are true reflections of the incompetence of Muslim scholarship and leadership in our region.

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  • Sun Tzu
    Aug 15, 2014 - 2:01AM

    You are an Indian – from the Great Indian city called Lakshmanagar (now called Lucknow) set up by Lakshman, brother of Lord Ram, of the Suryavansh Dynasty – in the most ancient of times – times when the Europeans ate raw meat and lived in caves and Islam was not yet invented.

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  • Sun Tzu
    Aug 15, 2014 - 2:12AM

    Your mother will qualify for an PIO (People of Indian Orign) card as she was born in India and even held and Indian passport. She can then enter India freely. Once your mother gets her PIO, you need to apply for one too. You are Indians – no point living in failing state – a better life awaits in India.

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  • Prakash
    Aug 15, 2014 - 2:13AM

    A true heartfelt story depicting the irony of partition-who gained at what cost?

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  • Karachi Mirchi
    Aug 15, 2014 - 2:30AM

    Finally Pakistan’s new generation raising germane questions. Other than ethnic, you also need to explore your religious and geographical origins for the last few thousand years. Once you find your bearings, you would be able to determine your destination and your future with precision and accuracy.

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  • Saleem
    Aug 15, 2014 - 2:55AM

    “For my family, the border between India and Pakistan has borne nothing but tears and heartaches.”

    You should only blame our deep state, the so called intelligence agencies for supporting and sponsoring non-state actors and various other mischief. Unfortunately people like you all ordinary pakistanis are suspect and have to go through so much scrutiny and hardship to travel to India.

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  • Omaima
    Aug 15, 2014 - 2:58AM

    You are Pakistani. Your grandparents are Indians. And above all you are a muslim. Hundresds of other people who left india for Pakistan also left their lands, wealth and homes. This is a choice one had to make. Your mother’s sorrow regarding to her family cannot be ignored but one has to make sacrifices to get other things. It is you who needs to what you are? What you represent and to where you belong. Your mother made her choice. What is yours?

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  • Aug 15, 2014 - 3:19AM

    You are a second class citizen. And will always be. Only Punjabis and Pathans
    are considered citizens. That will soon change to citizens of Punjabistan.
    Because Altafoo Bhai does not have the guts to ask for a separate province

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  • raw is war
    Aug 15, 2014 - 3:33AM

    “We were content and prosperous. Migrating to Pakistan only meant losing all our land, wealth and prestige and starting all over again on a blank slate.”

    Very few Indian Muslims are as honest as you. Most Muslims stayed back to hold on to their properties. But Hindus and Sikhs of Pakistan were brutalized and their properties were stolen in Pakistan and they had to come to India as paupers.

    This is the real difference between a proper nation and a excuse for a nation.

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  • Cool Henry
    Aug 15, 2014 - 3:41AM

    A very touching story indeed. Have a personal friend who has married a Pakistani Christian. Poor guy, has a very very hard time getting visa to visit India. Am sure there are many such stories on both sides of the border.

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  • Khurram Gill
    Aug 15, 2014 - 4:06AM

    You are first and foremost a beautiful human being these flawed divisions and definitions (Indian or Pakistani) cannot define you. It is very sad that you have to physically and mentally bear with so much of stress to secure a visitors visa to visit your loved ones in India. Same amount of suffering and stress is experienced by the people on the otherside who want to visit their loved ones in Pakistan. I hope a better sense prevails on both sides and they learn to live like two good neighbors rather than keep on wasting their meager resources on protracted animosity.

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  • SBK-1508
    Aug 15, 2014 - 5:03AM

    Just come back, young lady, and live in Lucknow. Muslims in India are a happy lot, as happy as Muslims in Pakistan, may be even happier! Don’t fall prey to false propaganda of your political leaders & media!

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  • @GOLDEN hoRDE
    Aug 15, 2014 - 5:54AM

    The trouble is of your own making. You have chosen to identify yourself as a “native of lukhnow”. If that is the case, whjat exactly are you and your family doing in pakistan? You should move to lukhnow asap!!

    That would be best for you as well as for the rest of pakistanis who do take pride in identifying themselves as pakistanis.

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  • RiceDeli
    Aug 15, 2014 - 6:00AM

    As your fellow Pakistani, I will help you answer this question in a scientific manner. You are Muslim and have Indian roots. Which automatically means that you’re not only Pakistani, but also that you have Arab ancestry. Furthermore, you should always be aware of injustices meted out to Muslims in India and other non-Pakistani countries.

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  • Patriot
    Aug 15, 2014 - 6:30AM

    Do pakistanis a favour and move to bharat

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  • BlackJack
    Aug 15, 2014 - 6:39AM

    Thank you for being truthful about the reasons for not migrating to Pakistan during the partition. However, now that you (and your family) made some choices, pls stop whining over the outcome. Pls understand that you are a Pakistani and are not a native of Lucknow – you have roots in Lucknow just as there are people in Suriname, Fiji and Mauritius who have roots in parts of India. Pls don’t act as if Urdu is a marginalized language in Pakistan, we know that several native languages are being sacrificed at the altar of Urdu.

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  • Avtar
    Aug 15, 2014 - 6:44AM

    Empathize with your predicament. Muslims in India had a choice of migrating to Pakistan or stay and prosper. Non-Muslims in Pakistan did not have such a choice; many converted to Islam rather than part with their wealth and start anew. Other than 150 years of British rule, India was already a Muslim state ruled for nearly 300 years by Mughals, and prior to that most of Northern India was under the Muslim rule. I wonder what was gained; even some of the Urdu speaking elites for the partition decided not to migrate to Pakistan.
    In most cases it is the Muslims who lost the most as they are now in three countries in the subcontinent.

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  • Professor
    Aug 15, 2014 - 6:45AM

    You are a Pakistani of Indian origin. You will never get away from having Indian ancestry. You will be a Pakistani of Indian origin following the Islamic faith. Religion, at best, can be a descriptor.

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  • Humza
    Aug 15, 2014 - 6:57AM

    I think it is clear from your post that you identify with India. You should be free to choose your own identity in a modern world. I am sure your food, mannerisms, dress and appearance is more Indian than Pakistani and it may well be that in Karachi you have chosen to live within the parameters of your expatriate Indian migrant community. I am sure other Muhajirs to Pakistan from India, Afghanistan or Central Asia have integrated themselves better and do not question their allegiance or identity but everyone’s circumstances are different. I identify with Pakistan because both sides of my family are native Pakistani and we value our history, traditions, culture and racial background.

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  • Ambareen Khan
    Aug 15, 2014 - 8:57AM

    What is meant by “born and bred”? I understand your mother was born in India but she would have started breeding only in Pakistan after getting married to your father.

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  • Feroz
    Aug 15, 2014 - 9:07AM

    It is a sad predicament. Every day all of us are forced by circumstances to make a choice. At times we make the right choice, at times the wrong one. Whatever it may be, we should be happy that we had the option of making a choice. Let us be happy with whatever we have, happiness can be easily shared, difficult to do the same with misery.

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  • Milind
    Aug 15, 2014 - 9:38AM

    @Humza – ” I identify with Pakistan because both sides of my family are native Pakistani “

    That’s the ticket… Its a cakewalk for you to identify with Pakistan if both sides are native Pakistanis.. Its a real challenge for the Muhajirs and requires hard work to assimilate in a new land…

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  • Hornet
    Aug 15, 2014 - 9:52AM

    Yes, she Is an Indian and she should cross over back to India where her heart and soul lives, we don’t want such a pusedo intellegent sort of unsure Pakistani living with us. Just imagine how the upbringing her parents have done that she is still living with the past where her parents belong to. We are very proud Pakistanis and don’t live in ambiguity about our nationality. I wish she goes back to India and becomes maasi in some of the low middle class Hindu family washing their toilets and washrooms and then only she will realize how honored she was to be a Pakistani. Thanks and move on. @Sun Tzu:

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  • Superman(CID)
    Aug 15, 2014 - 10:10AM

    @Sun Tzu: Not true..India has stopped issuing POI cards to the person having one of their parent from countries bordering India..ie..pakistan,bangladesh,.Moreover her mother is also not eligible for POI card as she has willingly dropped Indian passport.Other severe condition such as if her father dies and if her mother gets into economic shock or any life threatening ailment,her relatives back in India can apply for the favor from govt of India .Author is living in state of Utopia.Advise her to accept Pakistan as motherland which feeds her,gives her opportunity to study and grow.Wondering about India will always be painful experience since the land is particularly hostile for paksitanis and persons of pakistani origin..

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  • Huma
    Aug 15, 2014 - 10:17AM

    This is the same question many Pakistani-Americans or British Pakistanis ask. But this article takes a subtle swipe at partition, accusing it of dividing Muslims between Pakistan and India.

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  • Aug 15, 2014 - 10:25AM

    Everyone with stable mind can feel your emotions. But blame people who created a nation in the name of Religion. blame people who attack innocents in the name of Religion. blame people who cross border without visa ! Also your parents who married to a person of hostile nation which they were knowing in advance. I dont say that they shouldnt marry, but see everything has a price. Life is a package deal, few things are good, few are uncomfortable.Recommend

  • Imran
    Aug 15, 2014 - 10:30AM

    Zuha,
    Reading the hate filled comments written by Indians here, it should be obvious to you that your mother made a right decision and you should follow her too. My roots are also in Lucknow but now I proudly identify myself as a Pakistani. Your mother may have to visit india to meet her relatives but your children would not have to as their extended family would be in Pakistan. Indians are quick to denounce partition and the way they do it exposes why we chose partition over living with them.

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  • Lalit
    Aug 15, 2014 - 11:10AM

    the hassle which likes of you and your mother have to go through for entering India is really seems unnecessary,but every time the mention of one David Coleman Headley aka Daood Sayed Gilani comes,it all starts seeming meaningful.

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  • Intellectual.Pseudo
    Aug 15, 2014 - 11:13AM

    A stupid article around Independence day!

    Had the Muslims who came to Pakistan not migrated, would have been cut and burned like they always have been India.

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  • Ali
    Aug 15, 2014 - 11:18AM

    I echo a couple of sentiments here. Do Pakistan a favor, move to india. Since apparently it is a nightmare for your living in this country, its best to move out of here and start calling yourself indian. And once you move there, do write an article about how easy it is to be a muslim there.=).

    Good luck and God Speed.

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  • Mohsina
    Aug 15, 2014 - 11:24AM

    I agree with the superman , having been to a privileged institution like LUMS the author must reflect that how many like her have this kind of opportunity and exposure . These kind of decisions which her mother made was a matter of her own choice based on either or premise . Migrating to Pakistan after forty three years after the partition of sub continent was a wilful choice like the oath of allegiance any Pakistani takes while qualifying for the US citizenship . The state of her mother at the emotional and human level is under stand able but that is the dilemma of the first generation migrants and settlers any where in the world . Time will heal that . Imagine if the two countries had normal relations with soft borders ensuring smooth movement of people this problem would have gone . The bottom line is rather than lament let us all strive to build the peace constituency and more inter activity at people to people level . Before the 65 war, our elders tell there were no such restrictions , infact people living in the border areas could cross over on transit permits for a few days . Self suffering of the writer will not abate till she starts taking pride that she was a Karachi ite rather than introducing her self from lukhnow to which her parents belonged to . She should feel happy having been born , bred in Karachi which enabled her to think and strive in the best possible way .

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  • Ali
    Aug 15, 2014 - 11:40AM

    I agree with a couple of sentiments echoed here. Please move to india since apparently Pakistan is nothing but trouble and “tears and heartaches”. And once you are settled happily there, please do write an article on how easy and safe it is to be a Muslim there.

    These so called problems are nothing but what you have created for yourself. A certain section of people who migrated here somehow have a sense of self-entitlement and hence think they got a raw deal moving here. Thus, as stated earlier, please move back and be happy. You’ll discover your identity as well.

    Good luck and God Speed.

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  • Pity
    Aug 15, 2014 - 11:44AM

    Apologies for saying so but I think your mother should have had taken future problems into consideration before marrying a Pakistani citizen. There are several families especially in Karachi who migrated from India at the time of partition and these families and their second generation have happily established their roots in Pakistan. If you consider yourself to be more ‘Luckhnowi’ then you should move to India.

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  • Fritz
    Aug 15, 2014 - 11:46AM

    Hey, if you don’t like Pakistan, please do us a favor and leave. I don’t understand what’s the big deal !!!!

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  • Sid
    Aug 15, 2014 - 11:55AM

    It’s an unfortunate dilemma dear. But you are blessed with the fact that you are as much Indian as much you are Pakistani. It’s sad that identity of a person is no longer by his or her’s individuality but by nationality and religion. If you remove nationality and religion, we are all very much alike in every sense of life :). I hope some sane solution comes out to allow common men travel between India and Pakistan without all the visa ordeals. Khuda Hafiz! and keep smiling :)

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  • Ilmana Fasih
    Aug 15, 2014 - 12:02PM

    I can feel exactly what the author feels. I was married in 1990 too to a Pakistani and went through a lot before I discovered my tranquility in considering both India & Pakistan as my home. And speaking up beyond patriotism on what is right & wrong beyond prejudice…however its easier said than done. Both places have wonderful people, with some trouble makers, and vested interests.t
    As for my two kids, they both say, “We love India but we own Pakistan.”
    I had seen a few families with kids struggling with identity by crises, hence made sure my kids knew where they belong, yet made sure they understood & upheld secularism, tolerance and love for a common South Asian culture, which is such a great identity of the region. Borders for us are sovereign, but only for administrative reasons, not to divide hearts and love for desiness. :)

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  • Sun Tzu
    Aug 15, 2014 - 12:03PM

    @Superman(CID):
    you’ve got a point there mate; but on a different note, surrendering passport doesnot disqualify you from getting OCI ( overseas citizens of India) card – which is more powerful than PIO card, right? Thousands of NRI’s travel by OCI cards after surrendering passport.

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  • Ilmana Fasih
    Aug 15, 2014 - 12:04PM

    I can feel exactly what the author feels. I was married in 1990 too to a Pakistani and went through a lot before I discovered my tranquility in considering both India & Pakistan as my home. And speaking up beyond patriotism on what is right & wrong beyond prejudice…however its easier said than done. Both places have wonderful people, with some trouble makers, and vested interests.
    As for my two kids, they both say, “We love India but we own Pakistan.”
    I had seen a few families with kids struggling with identity crises, hence made sure my kids knew where they belong, yet also made sure they understood & upheld secularism, tolerance and love for a common South Asian culture, which is such a great common identity of the region. Borders for us are sovereign, but only for administrative reasons, not to divide hearts and love for desiness. :)

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  • amoghavarsha.ii
    Aug 15, 2014 - 12:12PM

    Dear, you are Born in Pakistan. You are a Pakistani. Identify yourself as Pakistani and all your delima will be over.

    Never identify as Indian. Because you will be simply betraying your mother land, Pakistan, which has fed you with so much of love.

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  • Encrypted
    Aug 15, 2014 - 12:50PM

    My family moved from Jalandher, India at the time of partition, leaving all our agricultural lands and property behind. However, I’m so thankful to my grandfather and father who worked hard. Today, we have our own home in Islamabad, my sister can practice medicine, I went on a scholarship to the US because I was Pakistani, and my father can freely practice his faith without anyone questioning his Pakistaniat (Muslims in India are routinely questioned if they are Indian enough or not).

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  • Iqbal
    Aug 15, 2014 - 12:55PM

    @amoghavarsha.ii:

    “Never identify as Indian. Because you will be simply betraying your mother land, Pakistan…”
    What is your logic in saying that? I suspect you have been brainwashed into thinking that Pakistan is a superior country. You should read reports which are not biased and they are freely available in the West such as this one:

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2002/feb/20/race.immigrationpolicy

    You will note that Indian Muslims have doing far better than Pakistani Muslims and are far behind the Hindus. I am ashamed to be a Muslim with Pakistani roots.
    Also, you should ask yourself why the Muslim population in India is actually increasing but the Hindu population in Pakistan has actually virtually disappeared.

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  • Napier Mole
    Aug 15, 2014 - 1:06PM

    I think like the term ‘SuShi’ created to represent families with joint sunni and shia heritage, a word shoudl be coined to represent those Pakistanis like the author who, presently Pakistani, had Indian origins previously (discounting the fact, that all Pakistanis were Indian to start with).

    On a more poignant note, lets remember the memorable words by the Sindhi scholar, Pir Rashdi who once said, ‘Hindustan ka mussulman ujra to jaa kar karachi basa’. So those who try to use the sorry conditions of Indian Muslims today (though it is much better than say a generation back) are using a circular reasoning to prove how good the Indian Muslims who migrated to Pakistan are compared to the Indian Muslims.

    In any case, a beautiful write up by the author which can be understood and appreciated only by those whose families have passed through this experience.

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  • Kidwai
    Aug 15, 2014 - 1:10PM

    Beautiful prose, young lady. Unfortunately that is where I need to pause this praise. My ancestors and roots have same coordinates as yours but feelings and sense of belonging very different. The generation of my family that chose to migrate was part of the independence movement, abdicated land and wealth, and more importantly decided not to claim land as part of the resettlement.

    The only armoury they had were education and sense of belonging/patriotism which they diligently passed on to the next generation. Fast forward today, in every worldly sense we have more than we could have had had our ancestors chosen to stay put with the land and wealth.

    Having said that, we have been regular visitors to India and greatly enjoyed being with the family around the country and Barabanki and nearby. Heart abd home is where i got everything I have.

    Count your blessings. Visa and travel hassles maybe worth a price for what you may never have had…

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  • Superman(CID)
    Aug 15, 2014 - 1:12PM

    @Sun Tzu: I have presented you true picture.There is a special marriage provision for India Pakistan marriage.Case is different If an Indian boy or girl married to an Italian or aussies or even african, his/her spouse and kids would be issued POI card as soon as possible.But same is not case with India Pakistan couple.

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  • Parvez
    Aug 15, 2014 - 1:30PM

    You study at LUMS, travel every year and go through the tedious process of getting an Indian visa………..and you are complaining…….why ?

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  • Ghazi
    Aug 15, 2014 - 2:01PM

    It is a pity that you are raising this question even after experiencing the insolence of these Hindus towards your mother who is forced to go through so much paperwork just for crossing the border to her extended family. The arrogance of these Hindus, even seen here in the comments should make it clear that your Pakistiniat is the most precious thing in the world.

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  • pak patriot
    Aug 15, 2014 - 2:04PM

    You can eat spicy well done beef steaks in restaurants here. Try doing that in India those crazy hindu RSS will go crazy and burn your homes. Also there is no Israeli embassy in your country. These things make me happy that i am a Pakistani not Indian.

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  • AVMPolpot
    Aug 15, 2014 - 2:20PM

    The Geographical solution for Indo Pak Couples is simple
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Live in Dubai.I am male and already in Dubai…..

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  • AVMPolpot
    Aug 15, 2014 - 2:23PM

    ” For my family, the border between India and Pakistan has borne nothing but tears and heartaches”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Yes but for countless soldiers on both sides of the border it has borne much worse results….lives cut short….amidst Military adventurism by the Pakistani state.

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  • Anjum Arshi
    Aug 15, 2014 - 2:29PM

    @Every Pakistani was an Indian !:
    We did not ‘walk away from 5000 years old civilization’, we took it with us. India is called India because of the Indus River, Mohenjodaro is over 5000 years old and Pakistan has heritage that is over 100 centuries old. Sure we share a heritage with India, too, like Taj Mahal and Mirza Ghalib and food and many many things more. I would say our poets and Sufis are common. So, please have a heart, celebrate our common history AND our differences. No problem there.

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  • Faraz
    Aug 15, 2014 - 2:54PM

    @Ambareen Khan:
    English lessons would serve you well.
    A short course in etiquette is just as necessary.

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  • SunTzu
    Aug 15, 2014 - 3:15PM

    @Ali:

    Muslims in India can aspire to be President, PM or any Minister unlike Hindus in Pakistan and yes, they get Hajj subsidies and also don’t get blown up in mosques.

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  • Aug 15, 2014 - 4:27PM

    @Intellectual.Pseudo
    Author didnt mention any incident of hate, she wants to visit India more and more. Author is right person to get information from, how many Muslims are cut in India every day. Dont rely on your earlier resources.

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  • Genesis
    Aug 15, 2014 - 4:43PM

    @Sun Tzu:
    PIO or OCI is restricted to only certain countries and that includes USA,UK,Australia and Europe.It is not open to other nations…

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  • Indian Observer
    Aug 15, 2014 - 5:59PM

    I feel sorry, and also moved by the author’s duress in getting visas for India. I hope, someday soon, she and her mother will be able to visit and even return to her roots in Lucknow which is a beautiful city with wonderful people, having visited that place several times because I love the creativeness of the people (including Muslims, Hindus, etc.), manifested in the arts, poetry and the human interaction. Having said that, the travesty of visa issuance taking a long process of scrutiny became necessary following the ‘”unwelcome guests” (read: terrorists and their ilk) from Pakistan. But India is not the only country that imposes a strict visa regime for Pakistanis. Try getting visas for the U.S., U.K., Europe, Japan. or even for some Muslim countries. Long lines of visa applicants at the missions of these countries are a common sight; indeed, the issuing officials do not even hide their misapprehension over seeing a green passport. Hopefully, dear author, you will get some respite soon and be able to visit your favourite city.

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  • Amina Siddiqui
    Aug 15, 2014 - 6:00PM

    My dearest daughter, thank you for making my story be known to the world! I hope this helps people understand that it is relatively easy for a Pakistani to travel anywhere across the world – except to India. May God save our family from difficult times and emergencies when we may have to travel to India on short notice – in vain, for it is almost impossible to bypass the month long visa process.

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  • Amina Siddiqui
    Aug 15, 2014 - 6:08PM

    I have no qualms with being a Pakistani. I have done much to serve this country. But my heart breaks when my path towards my mother is littered with obstacles.

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  • Asif
    Aug 15, 2014 - 6:27PM

    I find it sad that quite a few comments are questioning the patriotism of the author.
    The article pertains more to the immense difficulties being faced by ordinary Pakistanis of Indian origin to visit their near and dear ones across the border particularly during times of adversity.The same would not apply to a Pakistani residing anywhere else in the world.
    The authors mother who is personally known to me is a patriotic Pakistani having contributed immensely in her capacity as a leading speech language therapist. She happens to be amongst the founder members of a pioneering insitituion of the country imparting education leading to a bachelor’s degree in Speech Therapy.
    The discussion here should not be focused on whether how patriotic or unpatriotic the author is but rather to make the respective governments realize that the ordinary people of divided families should be facilitated just as is done in North and South Koreas who also face a similar predicament.

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  • SK
    Aug 15, 2014 - 6:28PM

    @author:

    Your family’s options at partition are a good enough insight into your need to even ask this question. For those of us whose grandparents made the ideological decision to migrate (despite being “well-settled and prosperous’) this is not even a question .

    What Pakistan and India should aspire to is, like the countries of Europe, putting history behind them and acknowledging and accepting each other wholeheartedly. That is about it.

    Pakistan has given you a lot and continues to. Get over yourself.

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  • Karachi
    Aug 15, 2014 - 7:24PM

    Why so many questions you should ask for Pakistani Citizenship for your relatives living in India.So Many Hindus are running back to India from Pakistan some muslims should also come here in Pakistan…

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  • Aug 15, 2014 - 7:28PM

    The questions raised by the lady are pertinent for all Pakistanis. Most are scared to honestly ponder over these existential dilemmas. Only solution suggested to the author is to erase the memory of past life as is being done collectively for Pakistanis by distorting history, negating Hindu past and denigrating forefathers. These questions will keep raising their ugly heads till discussed with open mind and liberal outlook.

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  • Strategic Asset
    Aug 15, 2014 - 8:08PM

    @Genesis: Actually, PIO Card is eligible for any citizen of Indian descent from all countries except India’s immediate neighbors, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan or Sri Lanka.

    OCI card is eligible for any citizen of Indian descent except those from Bangladesh and Pakistan.

    While @SunTzu’s thought is laudable, the author is not eligible for either a PIO or OCI card.

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  • Abdul
    Aug 15, 2014 - 9:23PM

    @Zuha Saddiqui,
    You are a brave MQM (Indian Urdu Speaking) individual-it took you 24-years to admit this hidden reality. As a matter of fact most of your kind hold the same feelings. One wonder than why people like you n individuals having same views/feelings are living in Pakistan? Surely no one hardly will miss like minded people if choose to move back to India. Frankly, we feel sorry to even let you n likewise immigrants to come here.

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  • Pankaj
    Aug 15, 2014 - 11:11PM

    It is really confusing. All mujahirs migrated to Pakistan coz they believe they were basically Arabs, not Indians. So, they migrated to new South Asian Arabia i.e. Pakistan, as after living more than 1000 years here, they discovered that it is not possible to live with Hindus anymore.
    Now, Arabs say not to marry Pakistanis/Bangladeshis as these low level people are not Arabs. Now, you say you are basically Indians not pakistani. What is all this? please someone explain.

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  • Get Serious
    Aug 15, 2014 - 11:17PM

    Pakistan is the Best.

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  • Grace
    Aug 16, 2014 - 12:08AM

    @Asif: Don’t you think we native Pakistanis get offended when someone moves to our country and says they don’t relate to it? Well they should just move away to whee they feel better and where they can better fit in. We Pakistanis abroad make a big point of telling people that we are a different nation with different outlook and then comes along some woman in Karachi who pines for her India. So who is stopping her and her family from going back there? Be fair.

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  • Shiba Raza
    Aug 16, 2014 - 12:45AM

    Zuha, it is an excellent article, dear. I live the same ironical situation, possibly not as often as you do & possibly with not as stringent a restriction as you do with reporting to police headquarters within every town & city of India you visit. It should not matter to anyone if you study at LUMS, travel every year & yet complain. It is the actual bilateral, politically instigated borders between two countries that were historically the same until 1947 & until today, share similar if not an identical culture that lead to the intense red tape & frustration that overwhelm the common man.

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  • Arijit Sharma
    Aug 16, 2014 - 1:03AM

    @Amina Siddiqui: ” … But my heart breaks when my path towards my mother is littered with obstacles. … “

    You do seem to have a sense of entitlement. If you choose Ummah over Bharat – you WILL have to go through the intentionally tedious visa process. Make no mistake – the visa process is meant to discourage contact.

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  • Shiba Raza
    Aug 16, 2014 - 1:24AM

    Excellent penmanship Zoha! I don’t think it should matter to anyone whether you study at LUMS, travel to India every year & yet complain. You are possibly subjected to immense travel related frustrations with police reporting being a Pakistani alien on Indian soil. However, this diplomatic political divide is unfortunately, bilaterally instigated & I do not foresee an easy solution to this problem. However, students like you with stories of individual frustration of the common man may be successful, in the least, in making our politicians realize that two countries that chose to divide in 1947 continue to share similar if not the same culture. They may, at some point in future history, choose to focus on ways & means of positive bilateral dialogue rather than dividing families with ancient ties in both countries.

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  • Shiv
    Aug 16, 2014 - 3:41AM

    In asking for the cake and eating it too, the Muslims wanted to have the best of both worlds. They wanted a Pakistan reserved for Muslims, they wanted India to enjoy the freedom of a secular country.
    The author’s problem had a solution – all Muslims should have migrated to Pakistan in 1947. Muslims got 25% of the country with just 18% of the population and more than half of them stayed back again claiming 20% of the country; that’s unfair. And then they continue to crib, like this author.

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  • truth
    Aug 16, 2014 - 4:33AM

    you are a Pakistani Indian

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  • IndianDude
    Aug 16, 2014 - 7:35AM

    @Omaima

    …This is a choice one had to make. Your mother’s sorrow regarding to her family cannot be ignored but one has to make sacrifices to get other things….

    Can you please elaborate what are the ‘other’ things that author’s mother had sacrificed for? A country that is failing where when ventures out of their home don’t know if they will return home alive! A country and his people who are considered nuisance by all most all the countries in the world (even the brotherly country SA, don’t want their kids marrying pakistanis!). A country whose ‘green’ passport raises ‘red’ flags at all the international airports.

    And above all you are a muslim

    It is because of attitude like this that no country wants muslims and particularly pakistanis coming to their land.

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  • IndianDude
    Aug 16, 2014 - 7:42AM

    @RiceDeli
    …As your fellow Pakistani, I will help you answer this question in a scientific manner. You are Muslim and have Indian roots. Which automatically means that you’re not only Pakistani, but also that you have Arab ancestry….

    I am a hindu, so according to your ‘science’, if i convert to islam tomorrow, I will automatically have an have Arab ancestry?
    What kind of scientist are you? Are you the same scientist who had invented the water powered car by any chance?

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  • Kris
    Aug 16, 2014 - 8:03AM

    It is sad. But, If in doubt, then you are a Pakistani. A true Indian never doubts about his/her ‘Indian-ness’.

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  • observer
    Aug 16, 2014 - 8:07AM

    @Zuha Saddiqui,

    I do feel your sincere inner conflict for identity. The artificial construct of Pakistan is based on rejecting any Indian identity and the inheritance of the 5000 year old culture, and believing in an Arab identity.

    I can understand your mother’s agony of being separated from her immediate family in India. There is a solution to her problem. Why not ask the close relatives of hers, assuming they want to do it, to move to Pakistan? That should be possible since Pakistanis are always worried about the well-being of Indian Muslims. I am sure the government of Pakistan will grant them Pakistani citizenship.

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  • Bakhtiyar Ghazi Khan
    Aug 16, 2014 - 8:18AM

    You are one of the lucky ones who didn’t face death, kidnap, massacre. Most of those who came to Pakistan did not choose to. Hindu and Sikh neighbors and betrayers decided their fates for them.

    It is too late to go back, did you forget how Indian Hindu mobs treat Kashmiris? In Pakistan, you are safe to call yourself Indian without fear, but in India you can be killed for being Pakistani or Pro-Pakistani, with full support of their government.

    Independence is incomplete without Kashmiri brothers. Many people sacrificed for this nation, and even now are suffering in Kashmir, so be happy you are safe and blessed.

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  • Prognosticator
    Aug 16, 2014 - 8:56AM

    @Pankaj:
    This, my friend, is what they call an “Identity Crisis”. When you deny your roots, you are a cultural nomad who has no frame of reference to add stability to your life.

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  • Culture is from land
    Aug 16, 2014 - 9:00AM

    Culture comes from land. It cannot be imposed or imported. We all belong to the same sub continental culture, be it in Pakistan or India. Islam is our religion, but our culture is sub continental. We have more commonality with the Indians than the Arabs.

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  • Arif Sheikh
    Aug 16, 2014 - 9:00AM

    You’re downright ugly is what you are.

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  • danish
    Aug 16, 2014 - 9:48AM

    Firstly, lets remember, that for the families such as yourself, that were aggrieved by partition, there were millions more who were ready to give theres lives for these borders to be put in place. I, for instance lost family members to sikh mobs.
    This identity crisis is largely a result of the inconvenience that you suffer at the hands of these borders- It was an inconvenience for your family to leave their land behind in favour of moving to Pakistan. It was an inconvenience for your mother to forgo her nationality and fret through the visa processes and it is an inconvenience for you to meet your family in India. To remedy your identity crisis i advice that you first understand the concept of associating oneself with an identity. It is the alignment of one’s self to a larger whole, a give and take relationship bound by common tendencies amongst a large group of people. The cultural tendencies of an UP migrant are widely prevalent in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the “give” concept of the identity configuration are yet to sink in. An identity crisis should not be facilitated by convenience, or the expectation that societal norms can be groomed to ones desires and preferences. By your logic, i could argue that you could experience the same sentiments if the situation was reversed; you were currently residing in India and the rest of your family was in Pakistan, restrictions are imposed by both states. This, to neutralise the -disenfranchised with Pakistan- centric theme to your piece. Another theme that I notice is the significant “baggage” that the Pakistani identity entails, for you. I would say that your preference for an “identity” hinges on widespread acceptance and patronage of that identity, particularly by your family. This brings me to question your concept of “identity” altogether. Unless you address these issues any repositioning of your identity might not be fulfilling.

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  • observer
    Aug 16, 2014 - 10:10AM

    @author,

    A movingly poignant article. Have you considered another option? Why not your mother’s close relatives in India apply for Pakistani citizenship and move to Pakistan?

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  • Aug 16, 2014 - 10:19AM

    @Arif Sheikh:
    If you come out of your rathole in Papua/New Guinea
    [where you are seeking asylum] Then we will be able
    to see your deviated septum. And your ogre face.

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  • Feroz
    Aug 16, 2014 - 11:01AM

    @Bakhtiyar Ghazi Khan:
    You have the gall to spit lies contrary to facts, believing the world has been fed on lies. Do you know what the %age of minorities in Pakistan was after Independence in 1947 and what it is today ? Similarly do you know the %age of minorities including Muslims in India in 1947, and today ? If parents continue to feed children lies like you do, have you ever considered they will find the Truth one day, what will they think about their lying parents when they do so. Please go read the Constitution of both India and Pakistan and come back here and report what you learned.

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  • Someone
    Aug 16, 2014 - 11:36AM

    Or why not just leave? I can imagine if you were sat in india right now, you wouldn’t even be allowed to publish this article.

    You reek of self-entitlement. You have a problem, leave this country. We do not need people like you spreading this kind of negativity and identity crisis amongst our young readers. Your article leans towards you favoring being and indian, as if being Pakistani is a shame.

    So do us all a favor, please leave. And stop writing such ridiculous nonsensical articles. These are YOUR issues, created by YOURSELF.

    FYI – the visa processes are designed this way to make it difficult for people to come and ago and I’m glad they are. Otherwise more idiots like you will cross over to here.

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  • observer
    Aug 16, 2014 - 11:58AM

    @Bakhtiyar Ghazi Khan:

    “In Pakistan, you are safe to call yourself Indian without fear”

    Really? How is this possible when Pakistani Baloch, Ahmadis, Shia, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs are butchered everyday for being not “true” Pakistanis?

    “Independence is incomplete without Kashmiri brothers. Many people sacrificed for this nation, and even now are suffering in Kashmir,”

    Very noble thoughts indeed. How about saying Pakistan is incomplete without the 180 million non-Kashmiri Muslims too? After all Pakistan was created for all of them. Why are 3 million Kashmiri Muslims any more special than the rest of the Indian Muslims?

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  • raj
    Aug 16, 2014 - 12:11PM

    You are a pakistani not indian. your mother cancelled her passport at her will. So your pain is worth for it.

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  • observer
    Aug 16, 2014 - 12:38PM

    ET Mods, please allow my retort to BhaktYar Ghazi Khan whom you allowed to make some very bigoted and untruthful comments.

    @Bakhtiyar Ghazi Khan:

    “In Pakistan, you are safe to call yourself Indian without fear”

    Really? How is this possible when Pakistani Baloch, Ahmadis, Shia, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs are butchered everyday for being not “true” Pakistanis?

    “Independence is incomplete without Kashmiri brothers. Many people sacrificed for this nation, and even now are suffering in Kashmir,”

    Very noble thoughts indeed. How about saying Pakistan is incomplete without the 180 million non-Kashmiri Muslims too? After all Pakistan was created for all of them. Why are 3 million Kashmiri Muslims any more special than the rest of the Indian Muslims?

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  • Aug 16, 2014 - 1:30PM

    Very nice story but I think that this border cant be left unsecure by both sides. Borderless World is dream of everyone but no country allow it to become reality.

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  • Adpran
    Aug 16, 2014 - 2:29PM

    I am not Pakistani or Indian, but Indonesian. So I will answer your question through neutral point of view.

    There are Indian communities in my country. They are descendants of Indian people who migrated to Indonesia long time ago. And they call themselves as “Indonesian of Indian descent”. Yes, although their ancestors came from India, they are Indonesian because they were born in Indonesia, and live in Indonesia.

    So, sister, are you Pakistani, or are you Indian?. The right answer is, you are Pakistani of Indian descent.

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  • Proletarian
    Aug 16, 2014 - 3:11PM

    Im from the land of the Indus. that makes me Indian

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  • Rafeeq
    Aug 16, 2014 - 3:31PM

    @Observer @Feroz
    You guys, in response to the Bakhtiar Ghazi Khan seem to have lost your minds. He may very well be referring to the escapes his parents/grandparents may have made to Pakistan to escape the bloodlust of the Sikhs during partition.

    Or do you think it was only a one way affair? That blood was being spilt only on the Pakistani side and the refugees on the opposite direction were given honey and cheesecake and were being politely sent across??

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  • hamza
    Aug 17, 2014 - 12:23AM

    Our family also migrated from indian occupied Jammu kashmir in 1965 long time after the partiton leaving all their lands and property. They had a choice to live there but they did’t accept the occupied power and left their ancestral place. But we are proud to be a Pakistani. I can’t even imagine the words you have said. The difference is of mindset. May be I have these emotions because my grandfather migrated from an occupied state.Recommend

  • Akram Khan
    Aug 17, 2014 - 1:45AM

    Another blow to two Nation Theory, a well thought piece to undermine the partition, subversion at its best.

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  • Syed Ali
    Aug 17, 2014 - 7:42AM

    Confused people. If you are born in Pakistan you are Pakistani, plain and simple. If your parents chose to live in Pakistan over India, they too are Pakistani. If you are too confused, pay a visit to your relatives in India. From getting the visa stamp to reach to India (lucky if you made it safely and Hindu terrorists did not burn you alive in the train), to reporting every day to the Police station, to restricted visits of only one city, will be more than enough to remove any of the doubts about your origins. And if its still does not remove your doubts, please leave Pakistan and get settled in India.

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  • Lalit
    Aug 17, 2014 - 10:08AM

    i am amazed that you have the moral strength to say such things after almost finishing off Hindus and butchering other minorities on a daily basis.

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  • tanveer
    Sep 26, 2014 - 7:26PM

    Its a very heart touching experience of the writer. Its a pitiful misery that human beings have been divided in boundaries and lands, though the universe was created by Almighty to let humans enjoy the bounties, blessings and that is mentioned in Surah Rehman. Languages, color and different faces are for identification only. if all human beings had same color same features then there would be no emotions no joy, no love no music nothing to please heart and soul. Its the politicians who have made life miserable.
    I wish the politicians and leaders just be humane and consider other the same. Life thence will be beautiful. Love and fragrance know no boundaries!

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  • Nov 5, 2014 - 11:12AM

    Good for you. Its up to you to decide where you belong.

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