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United States of Asia – Celebrating Pakistan & India’s 62nd Independence Day

August 14, 2009

Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress, Mahatma Gandhi

“I have always maintained that no nation can ever be worthy of its existence that cannot take its women along with the men. No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men…” (March 25, 1940, Quaid-e-Azam)

On 14 August 1947, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was born and the next day, India was freed from the 350 years long colonial rule of the British. After 62 years of freedom, the countries that were once divided on the basis of religion remain in anarchy.

From the demolishing of the 16th-century Babri mosque in 1992 and the 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings to the most recent Mumbai attacks, the divide and rule strategy has exacerbated the differences between the twin nations that were once united as one.

The partition was doomed right from the start;

Women, especially, were used as instruments of power by the Hindus and the Muslims; “ghost trains” full of severed breasts of women would arrive in each of the newly-born countries from across the borders. 15 million refugees poured across the borders to regions completely foreign to them, for though they were Hindu or Muslim, their identity had been embedded in the regions where there ancestors were from (Shirin Keen)

CHUP! – Changing Up Pakistan
CHUP! – Changing Up Pakistan

While boundaries were imposed, violence and conflict was born. Muslims and Hindus were divided and officially labeled as two different species. Many lost their identities and homes behind impenetrable boundaries. The ideology infiltrated into Kashmir, where conflicts on religious state boundaries still persists.

The differences between the two nations have repeatedly sown the seeds of war and the independence that was once cheered upon has now become a curse of the divide and rule.

Ramchand Pakistani, a film released in 2008 brilliantly depicts the micro-conflicts between border communities, when a young boy accidentally crosses the India-Pakistan border,

“The film portrays a true picture of how the people living close to the border unknowingly cross border and how they are used by both the nations as pawns to negotiate and prove each others point”.

India and Pakistan as one is a dream, but if this dream can be realized, hundreds of grandmothers and grandfathers who had been shuffled across borders and displaced onto foreign regions would be able to spend the last of their days in their ancestral land, be it India or Pakistan.

While ordinary people on either side of the divide unite in foreign lands and on television screens, the villains on the ground are none other than the political boundaries.

Hate the sin, love the sinner, Mahatma Gandhi

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