By Ozma Siddiqui
This one is inspired by a recent letter to Editor in a Saudi newspaper commenting on the circumstances that led to the Partition of India and Pakistan and the mess Pakistan has inherited since its creation. The writer could not have put the facts of the Partition of Pakistan and India better.
Indeed, in the original plan, Pakistan was to include the whole of the Punjab and Bangladesh. As it is, the country had been left with a strip of land, no industries to talk of and even today, it is bound by an agreement with India over its use of water from the Indus River.
It is small wonder then, that in the initial days and for decades afterwards, it was thought that the little country would fall apart and India would be ‘whole’ again. But the “little country” survived: in fact it not only survived but prospered and there was a time when a visit to Pakistan was actually a status symbol. And Pakistanis, being only human, beamed with pride and boasted of their success. In fact, at one point they were contemptuous of all things Indian.
The PIA was the airline of choice; the air hostesses had their uniforms cut and fashioned in Paris; Lahore was the heart of the country and Karachi, the city where the world came to shop. Islamabad, the capital, was acclaimed for its ethereal beauty which even Rajiv Gandhi (when he came for a visit at the behest of the late Benazir Bhutto, then Prime Minister of Pakistan) could not resist saying if there was a heaven on earth, then this was it.
India just could not compete with this rising Muslim power whose jawans held aloft their flag proudly and boldly proclaiming that Pakistan was the “land of the pure.” At the height of their glory, (in the late 70’s) the Pakistani government offered refuge to the Afghans and harbored tens and thousands of them in camps along their borders.
It is a very different story today. Pakistan’s leaders have cheated their people. The morale of the Pakistanis is at its lowest ever in its 60 years or so of existence as a sovereign nation.
Sadly now, there are an increasing number of voices heard in the present generation which say that they should have never migrated. Caught up in the maelstrom which is Pakistan, they think they could have had a better future in India. Over the past couple of decades, there has been a silent migration to other parts of the world because Pakistan ofthe continuing security and political situation in the country.
What is more, the foreign policies of India and Pakistan will not allow them to think of each other as friends. The ‘aman ki asha’ farce is limited to the social media and in polite conversations over endless cups of tea. The discerning viewer knows this for what it is: humbug.
Pakistan may or may not become a banana republic but one thing is for sure: it is a survivor and no matter what MJ Akbar and his ilk may say, the spirit of Pakistan lives on and as long as there is a semblance of government there, regardless of how corrupt it is, there is hope.