Today is August 15. India’s Independence Day.
ATP sends all Indians sincere and heartfelt Independence Day greetings and the very best wishes.
Here at All Things Pakistan, we have carried a special post on this day every year.
Very consciously, the posts we have carried on this day over the last three years form a trilogy of imagery: our post in 2006 sought to revisit our imagery of our past (here), in 2007 we highlighted the changing imagery of India-Pakistan relations in the present (here), and in 2008 we called upon our readers to re-imagine our visions of the future (here).
In very real ways, it is the image of the past, present and future of our mutual relations that have always and will always define how we view each other. Let me, then, simply repeat excerpts from this trilogy of posts on how I choose to view these images.
“…here are two people who disagreed on the India-Pakistan question as much as any two people possibly could, and at the deepest levels. And, yet, here they are; able to stand together and genuinely smile. Disagree, but smile. And ultimately to accept the course that history took; a course, mind you, that neither was particularly happy with. If they could, then why can’t we?
As a Pakistani I am in debt of Mr. Gandhi for the stand he took in trying to halt the horrible carnage that followed partition. Paying the ultimate price for that stand. My understanding is that the very first time ever that the Pakistan flag officially flew at half-mast was at Gandhi ji’s death. All government offices in Paksitan were closed in mourning of Mr. Gandhi’s death.
Mr. Gandhi probably disliked the idea of Pakistan more than any other Indian political leader; because he could not bear seeing his beloved India divided. On that bit, I disagree with him. But, once the deed was done he also recognized that the death and violence which followed was too high a price to pay for that disagreement. So much so that he was willing to put his own life on the line and go on hunger strike to stop the carnage. For that alone, I will always respect and admire him.”
But we can remain in the past for only that long. My post two years ago revolved around two pictures: young girls with flags of both India and Pakistan painted on their faces. These faces were images of hope and aspiration to me. Hope and aspiration that was worth celebrating. This is part of what I wrote two years ago (read full post here):
“… May our futures be defined by friendship, mutual respect, and prosperity… These young and pretty faces are the custodians of our shared dreams. May they always smile. May they always smile together. May our futures be defined by friendship, mutual respect, and prosperity.”
My post last year was again based on a particular photograph. Men in uniform – border guards at that – embracing and exchanging mithai. Symbolic it may be, bt how poignantly symbolic. I have updated that picture from the same ceremony at Wagah this year. Here is part of what I wrote one year ago (read full post here):
“The smiles on their faces may not be as large or as sincere as one might have wanted, but these men in uniforms seem to be saying that today is not the day to point fingers, it is a day to wish for a better tomorrow. All we want to say is exactly the same.
Tomorrow matters. And actions on both sides of the border today will determine what our tomorrows will look like. Our shared goal must be to create a tomorrow that is peaceful. A tomorrow that is just. A tomorrow that is friendly. A tomorrow that is prosperous. For both of us.”
Today, the fourth time I write this post, my image of the past, by sense of the present and my aspirations for the future remain what they were then. Sincerest Independence Day greetings to India today.
May the best hopes of both Mr. Jinnah and Mr. Gandhi come true for both our nations. May all our futures be good futures.