So Close, Then Why So Far? An Open Letter From A Pakistani To Indians On Our Republic Day 

Photo of So Close, Then Why So Far? An Open Letter From A Pakistani To Indians On Our Republic Day  1/1 by Maqsood Ali Khan
So close, yet so far.

I am not much of a writer, but for some inexplicable reason today I wanted to express my emotions. Maybe it’s because even though I’m just 24-years-old, it still appalls me to see how Pakistan and India have continued to grow farther away from each other over the last 69 years. I just can’t digest the fact that we are so close to each other geographically, genetically and culturally, and yet all we have managed to do is spew hatred towards each other essentially for a piece of land.

I am compelled to ask why we are so far despite being so close to each other. Because, an incapable mind like mine can't really fathom why.

Some of my fellow natives may be irritated at the historical fact that we were all born out of a far bigger Hindustan on the night of August 14, 1947. Before that we were together, we were one. Indians, on the other hand, declared their independence on the “stroke of midnight” a few hours later. 

And that is it. That’s all there was between the two of us – just a few hours. We were both born out of mutual detest for a common enemy; I wonder why that mutual detest for someone else suddenly got transferred to each other.

The other day I was watching a debate on Dunya News (a leading news channel in our country). The original topic of the debate was, “The measures to be taken to increase Pakistan’s per capita income”. It was a decent beginning (which looked scripted, to be honest) but it somehow didn’t take long for four of our “esteemed dignitaries” to convert a national crisis into a cross-border political issue. If anybody would’ve tuned in to the debate 20 minutes late, there is no way on earth they could guess what the original topic was. It was all a political commentary on how every problem in Pakistan had been caused by the 1947 partition and India in general. This suddenly invoked a flurry of emotions inside me, that were funny and sad at the same time. First, there was no reason for digressing from the original topic; and more importantly, why blame our neighbours for all of our miseries? It holds true vice versa as well. Whenever I log on to Youtube to watch any new Bollywood movie trailer, all I see amongst the comments section is a war of words between Pakistanis and Indians for no apparent reason at all. Both of us are equally responsible for spreading and propagating this hate about each other.

If I had to mention any other field apart from the battlefield where tension is the most palpable, it’s probably the cricket field. We reserve the choicest of abuses for each other while endorsing our national colours. Sometimes the words turn into blows amidst the stands, and that’s what becomes fodder for our respective medias for the following six months.

I may be wrong, but personally I’ve never come across anybody in my homeland who is completely disinterested about things associated with India. They either hate Indians or at least dislike them, it’s never a positive emotion. And, honestly, why must there be? We have probably been conditioned to abhor each other through the decades of divide.

If my uneventful prose could manage to stir even a single person today, I’d consider myself successful. And with this, I’m not asking us to completely dismiss whatever harm we have caused each other in the past; I’m just trying to bring in a reasonable doubt that it’s probably time to forgive each other. I am not the first person to try to bring in this “change of reason” and I’ll most definitely not be the last, because there are greater powers at work that do not want to let go of this hateful agenda for political gains year in & year out; but maybe our upcoming generations will gradually realize that it is better to let bygones be bygones and utilize our energies for the better of our nations instead. See, there is a strong reason why there are more critics in this world than there are artists; because it is always easier to bring down than to actually create something good. Let us not criticize each other for a change, and be the change instead.

As I said in the beginning, I’m not much of a writer, but the reason why I chose this medium to vent out my emotions stems from a Tripoto story of an Indian traveler who had come to Pakistan only to realise how similar both nations actually are. He was delightfully surprised that the food we eat is similar, the way we live is similar, the way we dress is similar, and even the way we speak is similar. And that’s precisely where my argument lies – we are so similarly designed that it is a cardinal sin to continue to attack each other at every drop of a hat. We are brothers from the very same mother, just estranged due to circumstances. We were born only hours apart but from the same womb. So there should be no reason whatsoever that we are kept apart forever, and that too because of heinous ulterior motives of a select few.

Today, I raise a toast to both of our great nations in a hope to see a combined independence day someday.