Tag Archives: India-Pakistan

Kashmir’s Freedom is India’s Freedom: Hum Kya Chahte? Azadi

I do not think ordinary Indians support the brutality of army occupation in Kashmir. Despite what the Indian state says, and despite what the Indian army and CRPF are doing, I honestly do not believe that any ordinary Indian supports the torture of young men, the blinding of people attending a funeral, the rape of women, the killings and maiming and abuse and humiliation that are now a routinized fact of daily life in the Kashmir valley. To believe that ordinary Indians enjoy watching this spectacle of violence, that ordinary Indians take pleasure in the torture of children, would be to think India is now a country comprised of sadistic psychopaths. I honestly do not think ordinary Indians are psychopaths. I do think, however, that ordinary Indians, and I count myself amongst them, have somehow managed, till now, to keep some distance between what is happening in Kashmir and the idea of India as a whole. After all, India is a large and complex country, a huge and diverse society. Everything that happens in Kashmir, the brutality of the army and the security forces, cannot signify the whole truth of India we tell ourselves. It seems somehow unfair to us ordinary Indians that what happens in Kashmir reflects on us all.

But the time has come now to squarely face some hard truths about ourselves, and the dissimulations, psychological and social, by which we continue to live in this country and call ourselves ‘Indians’. Continue reading Kashmir’s Freedom is India’s Freedom: Hum Kya Chahte? Azadi

No Country for Cricket: Umang Kumar

Guest post by UMANG KUMAR
I have to confess that there are many times that I too have wanted to stop supporting the Indian cricket team and root for some other team. And this is not just with the current lineup and their losses in South Africa and New Zealand. Why, even when Gundappa Viswanath failed in inning after inning, when, in the pre-Kapil days, Indian pacers (“fast medium”) like Karsan Ghavri and Mohinder Amarnath huffed and puffed, there were times I just wanted to say good riddance. Thank you India, I think I’ll switch allegiance – I’ll go support Clive Lloyds’ West Indies or Asif Iqbal’s Pakistan. Much better teams, so much more exciting to watch!

The Indian cricketers could neither bowl well nor defend modest totals with the bat. And they were lackluster on the field save that one saving grace, Eknath Solkar.
Continue reading No Country for Cricket: Umang Kumar

A tale of two passports, the year 1979, and walking to India: Fawzia Naqvi

Guest Post by Fawzia Naqvi

For the first time Pakistan’s elected President has completed his full five-year term and has willingly stepped down to transfer power to another elected President, a herculean achievement for a country with chronic dictatoritus.  The people of Pakistan must be congratulated for ensuring that democracy becomes an enduring grace and not just a good idea in some unforeseeable future.  So while there is earsplitting cacophony of debate and disagreement on virtually all issues, there is near unanimous political consensus that the army should remain in the barracks and that there should be peace with India. The time is now. And Pakistanis have accomplished this in an era when Pakistan is suffering its worst hellish nightmare of daily bombings and killings by terrorists, and a loss of over 40,000 of its own citizens in the last decade or so.  Pakistan teeters on the precipice of a very dark abyss, and has been inching ever closer to this dangerous edge for the last 34 years if not more. The first disturbing sign which I can remember was when the state institutionalized bigotry by officially declaring the Ahmadi community non-Muslim in 1974, opening up a hornets nest of discrimination, violence and unequal citizenship.  A tragic disaster, and fatal capitulation to right wing elements, by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. No one is really safe in today’s Pakistan but clearly those less safe, those hunted and killed are the Shias, the Christians, the Ahmadis and the Hindus. Those doing the killings have given insidiousness to the meaning of “the land of the pure.”

Continue reading A tale of two passports, the year 1979, and walking to India: Fawzia Naqvi

Why is Sachin Pilot in My Dreams? Or, Three Visas, and No More, to India: Fawzia Naqvi

Guest Post by Fawzia Naqvi

Sachin Pilot was in my dreams last night, with all due apologies to his wife, because I swear, I am not secretly fantasizing at all about India’s youngest cabinet minister. He just showed up. I think it was in Srinagar, though I’ve never been there, I swear. And why Srinagar? Well that’s another matter, requiring numerous sessions of therapy. But the good Minister made a cameo appearance and told me quite categorically that I had already been granted three visas to India and should expect no more. Don’t get me wrong. I like Minister Pilot. I admired the way he handled corporate America when he visited New York to deal with all the whining and complaining about Indian reforms and that pesky CSR Bill. But why is he in my dreams? An Indian friend tells me it’s because I’m constantly nervous about going to India. And herein lies the truth. I observe, analyze, obsess about, pontificate upon, call, email and travel to India more than most Pakistanis, without actually being a spy. Yes. Really. And I resent how easy the spooks have it. I’m guessing they aren’t dreaming about a finger wagging minister, ok Sachin Pilot, telling them they can’t get a visa! But such are the incessant covert and overt anxieties of Pakistanis like me who have careers involving India. And if Sachin Pilot, he of the new generation of Indian leaders is also telling me (in my dreams of course) that I can’t get a visa, then surely the news for Indo-Pak and hence my career, is not good. The twain of course is twinned.
Continue reading Why is Sachin Pilot in My Dreams? Or, Three Visas, and No More, to India: Fawzia Naqvi

The Curious Case of Hamid Ansari

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You may think he is a spy or a saboteur. If he is one, would he have spent months trying to reach Kohat from Mumbai and then get caught in just two days?

Sitting in Mumbai, Hamid Ansari fell in love with a Pakistani Pashtun girl over Facebook. He was a 26 year old management teacher, she was a B.Ed. student. After over a year of obsessing about each other over the internet, phone and phone messengers, she called him one day, crying. She had confided in her sister about this online affair, but the sister told the parents, who decided it was time to find her a husband. It was the last phone call. She soon disappeared from Facebook too. Continue reading The Curious Case of Hamid Ansari

Manmohan Singh must visit Pakistan

Dr Manmohan Singh with wife Gursharan Kaur at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on 1 January 2012
Dr Manmohan Singh with wife Gursharan Kaur at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on 1 January 2012

By SHIVAM VIJ: Which Indian or Pakistani premier has not desperately wanted to be the one to clinch peace between the two countries? Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has reportedly been keen, for years now, to go on a state visit to Pakistan.

Before the political climate could be conducive to Manmohan’s visit to Islamabad, 26/11 took place. Pakistan’s refusal to give Dr Singh even breathing space on the 26/11 investigations, followed by the LoC tensions in January and August this year, means that in his 10 years of prime ministership, Manmohan Singh will never have visited the country of his birth. Continue reading Manmohan Singh must visit Pakistan

What Indian school children learn about the Partition

I wrote recently about the surprising political maturity with which NCERT textbooks teach Indian students about the Partition. These textbooks were prepared under the National Curriculum Framework of 2005. This is of course not limited to the Partition chapter or indeed just the history textbooks. But I was particularly moved to see the Partition chapter. As you read it you realise what school textbooks can do in shaping how future generations see themselves, their own history and identity. I think a lot of people in both India and Pakistan would like to read it. Here it is:

Sarabjit, Sanaullah, you and me

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I met Sarabjit Singh’s brave lawyer Awais Sheikh in Delhi some months ago, where his book was released. He was very confident Sarabjit wouldn’t be hanged. As was Justice (Retd.) Katju, who launched the book. Justice Katju said there was no point campaigning for Sarabjit’s release until the Pakistan elections were over. I got a similar impression of optimism from people who had been following the Sarabjit case.

Well, they were right. Sarabjit wasn’t hanged. But hanging is only one way of killing. Continue reading Sarabjit, Sanaullah, you and me

Joint statement after the sixth meeting of the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners in Pakistan

This statement was issued yesterday by the JOINT INDIA-PAKISTAN JUDICIAL COMMITTEE ON PRISONERS

May 03, 2013

  1. Members of the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners visited Pakistani Jails in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore from April 26-May 1, 2013. The members of the Committee, Justice (Retd.) Mr A.S Gill and Justice (Retd) Mr. M.A Khan from the Indian side and Justice (Retd) Abdul Qadir Chaudhry, Justice (Retd.) Mr. Nasir Aslam Zahid and Justice (Retd.) Mian Muhammad Ajmal from Pakistan side visited the Jails.
  2. A total number of 535 Indian prisoners including 483 fishermen (including 11 juveniles) and 8 civil prisoners, believed to be Indian nationals at District Jail Malir, Karachi, 8 Prisoners, believed to be Indian nationals at Adiyala Jail, Rawalpindi and 36 Prisoners, believed to be Indian nationals at Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore were presented before the Committee. Continue reading Joint statement after the sixth meeting of the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners in Pakistan

An undivided history of Punjab’s Partition: Ajay Bharadwaj

This is a book review by AJAY BHARADWAJ of an authoritative new book on the Punjab’s Partition by Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed. If you have any questions about the book or about the Partition in general, please leave them in the comments section and we will soon put them to Prof Ahmed.

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The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed
By Ishtiaq Ahmed
Rupa Publishers, Delhi; 2011, 754 pp., Rs 995

Ishtiaq Ahmed claims that his work is “the first holistic and comprehensive case study of the partition of Punjab” (p.xlv); he has lived up to it admirably.  A study of rigorous scholarship, with painstaking fieldwork on both sides of the divide, The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed’ offers unbiased insights into a minefield called the Partition of Punjab. As the title itself suggests, the book delves deep into the most difficult aspect of Partition history which has come to define it — the scale and magnitude of the killings at that juncture.

The primary sources that Ahmed has accessed in his endeavour are equally interesting for a number of reasons. While the historian draws extensively from the classified fortnightly reports (FRs) of the Punjab governors and chief secretaries to the viceroys, he simultaneously pays heed to oral history or the personal narratives of individuals — “witness to or victim of traumatic events” — that he has recorded over a decade and a half. The coming together of the two strands creates an intricate web of high politics and everyday life, which contributes to a layered, richly detailed and immensely moving account of the partition of Punjab — leaving a permanent imprint on the mind of the reader. Continue reading An undivided history of Punjab’s Partition: Ajay Bharadwaj

Dear Pakistani friends, Put yourself in my shoes

I did not want to write this post.

There are enough Indian voices, from Times Now to Hindutva Online, who point fingers at Pakistan. Like M Ziauddin of the Express Tribune newspaper, I think that the two countries need more unpatriots – not people who ‘hate’ their own countries but who question their own nationalist narratives. People who ask: could we be wrong? Asking questions of yourself is difficult, and blaming the other is instant gratification of ego. Questioning yourself has long-term rewards in helping you make peace with yourself.

I am forced to write this piece because I continue to see well-meaning Pakistanis online continue to complain about the Bad Hospitality given by India to the Pakistani women’s cricket team in Cuttack in Orissa. The complainants online have included some of my Pakistani friends whom I know to be liberal, peace-loving and well-meaning, and who have clearly been influenced by some clever propaganda that is deliberately not showing them the full picture. Continue reading Dear Pakistani friends, Put yourself in my shoes

India and Pakistan – Peace Now, a global vigil today

Events are planned today in Lahore, Delhi, Mumbai, Karachi, Cambridge MA, Washington DC, New York and Toronto to observe a vigil for India-Pakistan peace. More details given at this Facebook page. Event created by SAMIR GUPTA and disseminated by Aman ki Asha. Given below is a statement.

India – Pakistan Peace Now – Global Vigil

January 27, 2013

Lahore – Lahore Press Club, Shimla Pihari at 6 pm
Mumbai – Gateway of India 7 pm
Delhi – Gandhi Peace Foundation 5:30 pm
Karachi – Karachi Press Club, 5:30pm
Cambridge, MA – Harvard Square Pit, 4-5 pm
Washington, DC – Chutney Restaurant, Springfield, Virginia, 6 p.m
New York – Near Gandhi statue at Union Square, 5 pm
Toronto – 365 Bloor St. East, outside Indian Consulate, 5 pm

The hate mongers have had their moment of fame. It’s time to tell the political leadership of India and Pakistan what we stand for. We, peace-mongers around the world, are gathering on January 27, 2013, in different cities as part of a series of peace events. All we have is some candles, some placards and many hearts full of love. We want the governments of India and Pakistan know that people in dozens of cities across six continents want them to continue the dialogue and take forward the peace process. Continue reading India and Pakistan – Peace Now, a global vigil today

A visit to the abode of Guru Nanak: Shiraz Hassan

Guest post by SHIRAZ HASSAN

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Photographs by Shiraz Hassan

You can divide a piece of land but you cannot divide a belief. This was my first impression when I reached Kartarpur, a historic and sacred place, located just three kilometres away from the Indian border in the north-eastern city of Narowal, in Pakistani Punjab.

My journey started from Lahore and it was one of the most exciting journeys of my life. As I travelled, I saw  lush green rice fields on either side,and wondered why I had undertaken this journey. It was only when I reached Kartarpur that I got the answer. Continue reading A visit to the abode of Guru Nanak: Shiraz Hassan

Let’s Meet – On Ajay Bharadwaj’s ‘Milange Babey Ratan De Mele Te’: Virinder S Kalra

Guest post by VIRINDER S KALRA


Milange Babey Ratan De  Mele Te (Let’s Meet At Baba Ratan’s Fair); Length: 95 minutes, Year 2012; Directed and Produced by Ajay Bhardwaj

Ajay Bhardwaj’s third documentary film based in East Punjab, India, takes us into a deeper exploration of some of the themes touched upon in his previous works: Kitte Mil Ve Mahi and Rabba Hun Ke Kariye. Indeed, at one level Milange Babe Ratan De Mele Te is about a journey of an impossible return to a pre-Partition Punjab in which religious identity was fluid and the sacred and profane intermingled and fused. Continue reading Let’s Meet – On Ajay Bharadwaj’s ‘Milange Babey Ratan De Mele Te’: Virinder S Kalra

In Multiples of Ten Ravanas

Some (more) thoughts on Indian and Pakistani soldiers beheading each other at the ceasefire line in Jammu & Kashmir

Hindustan Times Graphic
From the Hindustan Times

In the early hours of 10 January 2013, I published a post here that asked, “Was an Indian soldier decapitated at the Line of Control or not?” Soon thereafter, the family of Lance Naik Hemraj Singh of 13 Rajputana Rifles cremated his body and went on a hunger strike, demanding the government get the head. Several readers commented that now that it was clear a beheading did take place, I owe them an apology. I do not see why I owe them such an apology considering  I never said that an Indian soldier wasnot beheaded. I only pointed to the conflicting reports, the absence of official mention about whether or not a soldier was beheaded, a quoted a Reuters report that categorically said that according to the official spokesperson of the Northern Command, no soldier was beheaded, though the two soldiers’ bodies were mutilated. Despite such an official denial quoted in a trusted news source, I had written, “It is possible the anonymous sources are right, because this is not the first time both sides are blaming each other of showing disrespect to bodies of dead soldiers in violation of the Geneva convention.” Continue reading In Multiples of Ten Ravanas

Dear Barkha Dutt: The Buck Stops Where?

On the of latest edition, (telecast a few hours ago, on the evening of the 15th of January, 2013) of ‘The Buck Stops Here’, (a flagship news show on NDTV anchored by Barkha Dutt) – ‘India-Pakistan:Another Tipping Point‘, Admiral (Retd.) Ramdas, former chief of the Indian Navy said he knew that Indian forces have beheaded Pakistani soldiers in the past. Gen. (Retd.) V.P. Malik, former chief of the Indian Army contradicted him, and said this had never happened. Barkha Dutt was silent on this matter.

Below is a summary of some highlights of the discussion. Continue reading Dear Barkha Dutt: The Buck Stops Where?

A petition to end tensions at the Line of Control from citizens on both sides of the LoC

Signatures given at the end. Should you want to add your signature to this petition, write to Anuradha Bhasin at anusaba[at]gmail[dot[com]. The petition with the final list of signatories will be sent to the heads of state in both India and Pakistan.

To,
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari,

Dear Sirs,

We, the people of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control, have been observing with great concern the escalation of tensions at the LoC that have been building up gradually since June 2012 and have suddenly taken an ugly turn since the first week of January, 2013.

We express grave concern at the loss of lives of the soldiers and any casualties to civilians on both the sides. At the same time, we are also concerned about the safety and security of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the people living at the borders, who are directly hit by sporadic incidents of shelling and firing. Continue reading A petition to end tensions at the Line of Control from citizens on both sides of the LoC

Suran: A poem by Uzair

This guest post is a poem by UZAIR, who grew up near the Indian side of the ‘Line of Control’ in Poonch

The poet took this photograph in Poonch by the river Suran last summer.Across the second ridge lies the Line of Control. Taken from the Indian side, the photo captures the sun setting on the Pakistani side.
The poet took this photograph in Poonch by the river Suran last summer. Across the second ridge lies the Line of Control. Taken from the Indian side, the photo captures the sun setting on the Pakistani side.

The river carries with it
Snow of distant peaks,
Floating memories
Twigs, leaves.

Only a few miles west
it would be stripped
at the border, asked
to produce a permit,
shot dead or may be not.

Waters were negotiated upon;
so the river travels seamlessly
only a few miles west
to another country.

On its bank, I heard
a cuckoo speak
“The sun shines during day
and stars illuminate the night sky
even across the border”

“And a few collect the twigs
like memories of childhood;”

“smell of dead wood, so familiar
grief and longing, so natural
decades of hope; still alive,
even across the border”

One day the river would flow
eastwards, said the old man
whose corpse floated across,
only a few miles west
and met his children
across the border.

(Uzair blogs at Untitled Untitled.)

See also:

Was an Indian soldier decapitated at the Line of Control or not?

"In this sickening image, one of the most extreme in The Disasters of War series, the naked bodies of mutilated, tortured and castrated men are shown hung from a tree as a warning to others. Goya was one of the first artist to reveal the grim reality of warfare, stripped of all chivalry, romance and idealism. He captured something quintessential about modern war which has found resonance with succeeding generations of audiences. This print was controversially adapted in the 1990s by the artists Jake and Dinos Chapman. It formed the basis for one of their gory, three-dimensional tableaux, in which scenes from the series were recreated using dismembered mannequins covered in fake blood." - Image and caption via nationalgalleries.org
“In this sickening image, one of the most extreme in The Disasters of War series, the naked bodies of mutilated, tortured and castrated men are shown hung from a tree as a warning to others. Goya was one of the first artists to reveal the grim reality of warfare, stripped of all chivalry, romance and idealism. He captured something quintessential about modern war which has found resonance with succeeding generations of audiences. This print was controversially adapted in the 1990s by the artists Jake and Dinos Chapman. It formed the basis for one of their gory, three-dimensional tableaux, in which scenes from the series were recreated using dismembered mannequins covered in fake blood.” – Image and caption via nationalgalleries.org

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In a skirmish on the Line of Control on Tuesday, 8 January 2013, did Pakistani soldiers behead an Indian soldier or did they not? Or did they behead two soldiers and take away the head of one of them? Or did they behead one and slit the throat of another? Reports in the Indian media have left me utterly confused. I’ll let you decide. Continue reading Was an Indian soldier decapitated at the Line of Control or not?

Indians and Pakistanis Condemn Exchange of Fire and Killings on LoC

List of signatories from both countries given at the end.

We, the undersigned Indians & Pakistanis, are deeply disturbed with the recent exchange of firings and killing of two Indian and one Pakistani soldier across the Line of Control (LoC). The incidence as reported is highly deplorable and no sane person or society can accept such unwarranted and gruesome incidences. The said incidences have a potential to derail the ongoing peace process that has shown remarkable progress in recent times in easing the visa regime, improving trade relations and securing many other confidence building measures that hold great promise for both the countries.

We are happy that the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both countries have spoken to each other after the incidents. We urge that suitable mechanisms must be evolved and implemented immediately to ensure that the concerned authorities on both sides are in constant touch to avert recurrence of any such incidence rather than meet after some damage is done. Continue reading Indians and Pakistanis Condemn Exchange of Fire and Killings on LoC

Seeing Pakistan from Juhapura: Zahir Janmohamed

Guest post by ZAHIR JANMOHAMED

Since I started conducting research in March 2011 about the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots, I have learned that the worst way to begin a conversation with a Muslim here in Ahmedabad is to ask about the 2002 riots. I was an eye-witness to the riots in 2002 and I thought my experiences might make some Muslims in Gujarat feel more comfortable speaking with me. I was wrong.

Sometimes I had to interview a person four or five times before they felt comfortable speaking about the 2002 riots. The reasons are varied. Some feel there is no use speaking about the riots as they know justice will never come under Narendra Modi’s watch. Others feel exploited by NGOs and Islamic groups who have used their stories to raise funds for their organizations abroad. And others, as one rape survivor told me, do not want to “relive the trauma.”

But if you ask Muslims in Ahmedabad about Pakistan, chances are you will walk home with a notebook full of comments. Earlier this week I went around my neighborhood of Juhapura—an area pejoratively known as “mini Pakistan”—and asked residents for their comments on Pakistan. The answers are telling. Continue reading Seeing Pakistan from Juhapura: Zahir Janmohamed