Independence Day Greetings for India

Posted on August 15, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Foreign Relations
Total Views: 33752

Adil Najam

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).

We would urge our readers to please revisit these posts if you have a few moments before you read on (click on the three images above, or here, here and 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, then, is just a part of what I wrote three years ago (read full post here):

“…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.

41 responses to “Independence Day Greetings for India”

  1. ASAD says:

    I was also despressed to see the crass reaction on the FB page but I will not take it too seriously. It is not just about ago or education, it is the way of facebook. Facebook is really not a good medium for any serious discussion. It encourages slogans and reactions to catch attention. It is not a place to make an argument or have a discussion.

    Also, it was obvious that nearly none of those commenting had actually read the piece so they were reacting to a headline and maybe a picture. Plus I also noted that it really was just a few people repeating one comment after the other. That is why I never post comments there, it is not worth it. The real serious discussion is here.

  2. adeel says:

    A correction to my earlier post

    *the Indians are NOT really too far behind (which is hardly a surprize).


  3. adeel says:

    I am watching this thread with much interest for answer to the question you posed.

    I agree with the ‘younger followership’ notion and the fickle nature of the facebook photo-comment discussions (people tend to be whimsical and likely to be commenting in response to headlines alone with little or no introspection).

    But, as you noted, precisely because they are young, educated (not likely madarasa educated at that) and modern (as in their acceptance of modern technology; not the usual meaning we assign to it in Pakistan), this is very scary.

    Meanwhile, the greetings from India that Watan Aziz has reported in the comment below tell that the Indians are really too far behind (which is hardly a surprize). My reaction to the BJP handling of the Jaswant Singh affair was: “How very Pakistani!”

  4. Watan Aziz says:

    Indepence Day Greetings From India

    From BJP’s Hanuman, I am now its Ravana: Jaswant

    TIMESOFINDIA.COM 19 August 2009, 02:38pm IST
    NEW DELHI: “The decision to expel me is sad and regrettable”, Jaswant Singh has said after the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) expelled him from the party following the Jinnah controversy.

    “I am thankful to party for giving me responsibilities earlier. I would have felt better if L K Advani or Rajnath Singh had told me personally rather than informing me over phone.” Singh said.

    I am being expelled from the party for writing a book, he said, adding that this trend of politicians not being encouraged to think or write is sad.

    Jaswant Singh also alleged that BJP did not follow procedures in expelling him. “They should have issued show cause notice”, he said.

    Jaswant Singh, who has written a book on Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, said he got a call at 1 pm from Rajnath Singh.

    “If this was the decision, it would have been better if I had been told in Delhi not to come to Shimla,” he said.

    “I have been a member of the BJP since it was formed (in 1980),” he said.

    “I am worried and sad that just one book has led to my expulsion,” he added, wondering what would happen if “soch, vichar and chintan” (thinking and introspection) stopped in Indian politics.

  5. Hamza says:

    Adil, you continue to impress me with your thoughtful posts and the obvious sincerety of your beliefs. I’m glad you continue to wish India a Happy Independence Day, and I find that your usage of history and the contemporary to make your point is particularly effective.

    Like some other readers of this blog, I was disappointed and disillusioned to read some of the earlier posts on facebook. Disappointed because I didn’t expect members of our wonderful online community to exhibit such dislike for your neighboring country. The debate on this blog is passionate and heated, but it rarely devolves to the simplistic often hate filled nature of the facebook comments. More seriously, I felt a sense of disillusionment because the demographic of facebook users is likely to be younger than those espoused by commentors in this blog, and thus, their antipathy towards India are likely represent the views of the future of pakistan.

    It wasn’t too long ago that I had to study the drivel that was more formally called “Pakistan Studies”, but I have to wonder: has the warped Pakistan Studies curriculum really had such a drastic impact on the mindset of younger pakistanis?

    Fellow readers of this blog, what do you think is a reason for the drastic difference between posts on the facebook and those of the blog readers?

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