Arts and sports have played an immense role in propagating peace across the world. Artists, philanthropists and sports celebrities have often proved to be the only people to have tried to change the status quo of the hostile relations between many countries such as India and Pakistan. Whether we talk about candlelight vigil at Wagah-Attari border, participation of Pakistani sportsmen in Indian Premiere League (IPL) or artists traveling across the border to share their work with people residing in both the countries, their efforts to develop the camaraderie between millions of estranged Indians and Pakistanis is endless and many a time beyond belief.
However, it is extremely unfortunate that the aforementioned people are always the first to be singled out whenever the tensions between India and Pakistan intensify. Last week nine Pakistani players, who were to participate in Hockey India League (HIL), were sent back home because of the mounting tensions at the Line of Control (LoC).It is also being speculated that Pakistan’s women cricket team may not be able to participate in the upcoming World Cup because of the tragic events which resulted in untimely deaths of Indian and Pakistani soldiers. Indian politicians, enraged with the situation, urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take strictest action against Pakistani authorities. Some even demanded for “10 heads from Pakistan” for the alleged beheading of an Indian soldier whereas others speculated that certain radical elements were behind the execution.
Although what happened at the LoC can only be described as deplorable and detestable, however, acts of a certain individual or group should not be taken as cue to blame all Pakistanis as most of them bear no ill will towards Indians.
Sujal Tirpal, an Indian from Mumbai said, “It is most unfortunate that many people in India still consider all Pakistanis to be terrorists. It is a common phenomenon especially in North India where people refuse to believe that Pakistanis can see Indians or India progressing. What most of us fail to realize is that when we stereotype people on the basis of their nationalities, we become prejudiced and offensive in our own thoughts.”
He went on to add that, “People who possess such feelings and thoughts for fellow human beings, be it Pakistanis or Indians, can easily resort to the most evil means and kill indiscriminately without any remorse. If the educated people are unable to understand the difference between innocent Pakistanis, who play no part in jeopardizing the existence of India, and savage militants then we all should just crawl back to our caves.”
However, some Pakistanis and Indians differ from Tirpal’s opinions and believe that if an attack is launched from either side of the border then showing mercy towards any individual is considered against the basic rules of patriotism.
An Indian from Delhi on condition of anonymity said, “I completely agree with the ideology of Shiv Sena and it is our responsibility as Indians to keep Pakistanis away from India. They have never been one of our well-wishers. They attacked us in 1965, 1971, 1999, 2001 and then again in 2008. Sometimes they kill our soldiers and on other occasions they kill innocent civilians. I strongly believe that most Pakistanis are not peace loving and are always plotting against Indians or India.”
“Pakistan’s army, rulers and general public are all against India. We have suffered immensely over the past several decades because of their hidden vendetta against our state. I don’t want Pakistanisportsmen, artists, businessmen or politicians coming to our country and ruining our peace,” he added.
Reciprocating equally to the hostile sentiments of the aforementioned individual Salman Abbasi, a Pakistani from Lahore said, “instead of harping on and on about peace and what good it will bring to the South-Asian region, we all should just accept the fact that India and Pakistan can never become friendly nations. We are poles apart and I think we should break all ties with them because they keep on blaming Pakistan for everything that goes wrong on their border or in their country without having the decency to share any substantial evidence with us. They have been blaming us for over six decades now and I really do not think that they are interested in moving on to build better relations with us.”
Listening to all the negative comments I just could not stop thinking about why is it so difficult for us to believe that India and Pakistan can put the past behind and embark on a journey of healthy relations? Why is it unfathomable for many of us that we truly belong to the same race and are exactly similar in many ways? Is Indian blood any different for Pakistani blood? Why is it so easy for us to give up on each other without even thinking twice?
I refuse to believe that majority of Indians and Pakistanis endorse some of the negative feedback that I received. I know that most of us have positive feelings towards each other and stand united on various fronts. My thoughts were positively reinforced when I read a news report about Indian women protesting against the killings of Shia Muslims in Quetta. Simultaneously my views were once again proven true when young students from India and Pakistan met in New Delhi and vowed to spread peace.
Had armed forces and politicians from both sides of the border acted as gracefully and prudently as other civilians, the situation could have been controlled. It is important for all of us to understand that the people responsible for all the bloodshed do so to serve their own personal interests. They are neither friends of Pakistan nor foes of India. Their only motivation is power and money and by falling into their trap, every time they fuel violence, we just make their task easier. Although it is very difficult to control emotions over the loss of innocent lives, however, by giving rise to situations which may result in further loss of human lives, we prove to be irresponsible. Unless we give peace real chance, radical elements will continue to capitalize on our sentiments and turn us against each other.