I shared this on Facebook (& Instagram) an some Pakistanis started accusing me of selective posting. Why hadn’t I mentioned the rapes in India, they asked?
I had shared a post of the perpetrators of the rapes in Katua and Unnao. We need to move to a Western model of immediate shaming of the accused (if proven guilty) and a Saudi method of instant dispatch. India’s system of justice is shambolic. So is Pakistan but then there is that steel of vigilante violence in Pakistan.
The problem with any discussion on South Asia is that it immediately descends into a Indo-Pak comparison slanging match. I lay this at the door of colonialism but even so both Indians & Pakistanis should not be stupid enough to fall prey to it. We have some serious regional issues and most prevalent is violence against women.
On a personal note many Pakistanis and many Bahai’s sort of see my marriage to be crossing over to the other side. For the Pakistanis it’s the insult that I have adopted more of my wife’s Indian heritage than she has mine (by an order of magnitude). For the Bahais it’s the fact that my wife is an avowed atheist and questions basically everything.
Of course in BP it’s hard to communicate that but it’s only because we have the virtual veil over this blog.
However my problem with Indian commentators is that in their haste to deal with the Pakistani psychosis (which is a thing) they’ll latch onto everything. Write what you know and if one can’t do that then know what you write.
As an example we went to watch the excellent Pakistani film, Cake, late last night in the neighbouring shire. A lot of people are now saying that this is a turning point in Pakistani cinema and it’s a coming of age for the genre. I made the observation (which I borrowed from my best friend) that Pakistani dramas follow the hyper-realist Persian tradition since they don’t have the budgets and have to skirt censorship. There’s probably some historical angle to it but my point being is just because I’m making an observation doesn’t mean that I’m negating the underlying fact that Pakistani cinema ultimately split from Bollywood in 1947.
Finally India and Pakistan are on different spectrums of the politics of hate. With movies like Cake featuring a Urglish speaking Sindhi family going back to their roots, Pakistan has been trying to project soft power post 9-11. Pakistan is trying to emerge from a century of the politics of hate ever since Allama Iqbal recanted Saare Jahan se Accha after his Cambridge years.
On other hand with the brutal rape of an 8yr old Muslim girl, whose religion & ethnicity was central to the attack, India is now understanding the cost of the politics of hate. Let’s see the extent to which liberal India can push back and reverse the tide but it’s the logical outcome of “othering” the Muslim minority over the past 2/3 decades.
This isn’t about point-scoring; the tragic and lasting legacy of colonialism has been that it’s divided us in these mutually exclusive camps. Maybe more marriages, friendships and associations over caste, national & religious lines will help heal the divide.