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Mainstream Vol XLVI, No 51

Open Letter to Our Dear Brothers in Pakistan

Friday 12 December 2008, by Shree Shankar Sharan


Our dear brothers in Pakistan,

In the intense grief that I am in due to the mindless raid and killings in the Taj and Oberoi Trident hotels which visitors from Pakistan or in undivided India would vividly remember, Nariman House, Leopold Cafe, the Victoria Terminus and Chowpatty which cost nearly 200 lives and many more injuries, I write with utter disbelief and shock that such a thing should have been the handiwork of any of the good people of Pakistan.

I have been to your country so many times—to Lahore and Peshawar and Islamabad—and still savour the exceedingly warm hospitality that you showered on us Indians who went as guests to your country. I was so impressed with the way the dream of Pakistan has unfolded in a new and beautiful reality, in the new and dream city of Islamabad, the beautiful Faisal mosque, your smart Secretariats and, most of all, your intellectual rigour and linguistic elegance. Of all countries in the world Pakistan seemed closest to our hearts. I found no animus even against saffron clad Hindus in Lahore and were embarrassed by surrounding shopkeepers wanting to load us with gifts. I have walked all by myself around Taxila and found no animosity or hostility on your roads or in your buses or in your tongas even when they discovered that I was an Indian.

I have no doubt that most Pakistanis like most Indians are incapable of killing or committing a crime. But as all great teachers have taught us, to condone a crime can be as bad or as sinful as committing the crime or sin yourself.

I concede that our governments, whose job it is to protect us and not to put us in peril, sometimes do things to be one up or to right an assumed wrong or to avenge a national insult or to be the next Alexander the Great. But none of these provocations exist between your recently, democratically elected government in Pakistan and the Indian Government. The Indo-US nuclear deal may have been an irritant but to deny the deal to Pakistan was an American choice and not India’s. There is, besides, the perennial dispute in Kashmir; but there is an election going on there with wide participation and India and Pakistan have been moving towards so relaxing relations between the two Kashmirs in movement and trade as to give them a feel of being one country. The raid on Mumbai has jolted all these steps to thaw Indo-Pak relations the last of which would have been to relax and strengthen freer trade.

The Mumbai raid could only have been conceived and executed by vested interests that profit from Indo-Pak tension, be they from the trading community or from the military or the lunatic fringe of jehadis or Kashmir.

Jehad has been closely defined in the Holy Quran by the Prophet and does not include innocents or every non-believer as its proper target but only the enemies of Islam. In one of the Shuras the Prophet has even excluded idolaters with whom the believers have reached a pact. In India this pact has been made through the Constitution of India which has made every citizen to be equal regardless of faith or race or colour. India is home to a large Moslem population who chose to make India their home rather than move to Pakistan. The Mumbai raid has also taken its toll not only of foreigners but also Indian Moslems who have been equally traumatised.

The duty to stop all this madness that planned and made the Mumbai raid falls on you, the people and our brothers of Pakistan. If you don’t and we don’t stand up to stop the madness the horrible fall-out will be on you and us and not the authors of the madness.

Shree Shankar Sharan

(President Awami Eka Manch, Patna/Delhi


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