Before I start this post, I want to make it very clear that I am an ardent supporter of peace and brotherhood.
A few days ago when I was working on a blog post- The Bleeding, Burning, Weeping Punjab, I came across a video on Youtube in which a prominent Pakistani journalist, Najam Sethi, talks about the partition of India in 1947, on a national television. It must be duly noted, that this video is now on a global platform, Youtube. So this issue must be dealt with sensibly. I would like to quote him- “Jaise aap dekh rahe hain Hindustan mein vo ek aadh musalman ko President bana dete hain..” (Like you can see that in India they make a Muslim man a President). This particular remark has, basically, disturbed me ever since I’ve heard it.
I found it to be an utterly outrageous, offensive and irresponsible comment made by a JOURNALIST.
I really don’t know where Mr. Najam Sethi got his journalism degree from (I would’ve searched for it on the internet but I am least interested in this man). Even though I had journalism as a secondary subject in my graduation, I know the basics of it, the most important is that a journalist has to be OBJECTIVE. I don’t know whether he’s co-hosting the show or is just a guest on the show, but being a journalist, this comment is not justifiable.
Now, I don’t watch Pakistani news channels (on Youtube or otherwise), but this one really convinced me not to watch any in future (because I love my peace of mind and such remarks annoy me a lot). News after 9 p.m. is nothing but a fish market in India. News channels call politicians, social activists or sometimes common men for a debate or two. And they never talk, but shout. If these comments would’ve been made by some politician, I would’ve understood it. But I would never expect this from a journalist because they are the ones who can actually bring peace!
Mr. Najam Sethi has questioned the credibility of Indian secularism and also, People’s President, Late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Let me bring it to your notice Mr. Najam Sethi, that when Dr. Kalam died, India (and that includes people from all religions) cried! When we Indians hear the word ‘Kalam‘, we think of a simple man with a humble attitude who connected with the masses. Mr. Kalam wasn’t made the President because he belonged to a particular religion. He was made a President, because he had the calibre. Mr. Sethi, I don’t know how you people reacted, but in India, everybody was stunned to hear of the sudden demise of this great man. I was in my room when I saw a Facebook post about Dr. Kalam‘s demise. I ran to my mother’s room and told her. She was shocked. My brother was shocked. My dad came from an evening walk and he was also taken aback. The four of us were glued to the television. It was an unfortunate news for us all.
Also, the next morning, almost everybody in my Whatsapp contact list had put Dr. Kalam‘s picture as their display picture. There were Facebook statuses dedicated to Dr. Kalam. Such was his legacy that from children as young as five years of age, to the people in their nineties, everybody showed deep remorse for this great departed soul. Even the two opposition parties who have always been at loggerheads, the Congress and the BJP, came together on his funeral.
Well, you seem to be a great fan of Qaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Let me tell you that Qaid-e-Azam never believed in the animosity of Hindus and Muslims. A perfect example is his famous speech on 11 August, 1947 in the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, Karachi-
You are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed- that has nothing to do with the business of the State… We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and the other, no distinction between one caste or creed and another. Starting with the fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state…
I hope this is proof enough of Jinnah‘s secularism. And as far as the Nehru‘s secularism is concerned, Nehru-Azad friendship is the epitome of it.
Mr. Sethi, go to any village in Pakistan or in India where families separated by partition are living. You will hear stories of how they lived in peace and harmony before partition. None of the villages had any communal feelings, whatsoever. The massacre of Punjab partition was a flood brought about by some self-benefactors and hence, poisoned the relations between two communities. It was the upper class Muslims and Hindus who demanded partition and not the common men. Rural people of British India wanted a peaceful life, an existence which had meaning and most importantly, freedom. But all they got was death, destruction and separation…
It was neither in Jinnah‘s hands or in Nehru‘s to stop those riots..
Jinnah had never imagined in his wildest dreams that the partition would bring with it such bloodshed. In fact, he saw India and Pakistan living in harmony just like the U.S. and Canada. Nehru fought until his last breath to find peace between the two nations. What better example to prove this than the fact that even in his last days he sent Sheikh Abdullah to Pakistan. None of them ever wanted this fate for the two countries.
Often it is brought to notice that Muslims in India are the most under-developed. I would like to shed some light on it. First, during partition, it were the rich Muslims who went easily to Pakistan because of money and power. The poor had two choices- either to go to Pakistan and risk their lives because of the deadly atmosphere of that time, or stay back and risk their lives in their homeland. The poor were butchered. Some ‘lucky’ poor ones managed to survive.
India has developed, yes. But a major chunk of it still reels under the cloud of poverty. The poor is still poor. And that includes the poor Muslims too. Some, like Dr. Kalam, worked hard and hence managed to take the world by storm. But then we hear many stories of poor Indians making it big in the IIT entrance or civil services examinations. So, differentiating on the basis of religion is utter nonsense.
I don’t know about the rest of India. Some ten years ago, we had a Muslim maid named Neelam. And till date, all we say is that she was the best maid we ever had. We trusted her so much that she even took care of our house when nobody was home. She used to take our phone calls. My dad employed her husband, who was a mason, to build a home on one of our vacant plots. And we still miss her.
We have leased another home of ours to a Muslim family. And my dad didn’t think about his religion before renting the home. All he checked was whether the family would be able to pay rent on time. The guy even brings sewiyaan (a kind of sweet) on Eid for us.
My mum’s tailor is a Muslim and he is the most honest and soft-spoken man I’ve ever met.
We don’t even think twice before engaging (renting, employing etc.) with a Muslim. Because for us, that person ain’t a Muslim. That person is a human.
There’s a saying in Hindi- Insaan ki pehchaan uske karm se hoti hai, na ki uske dharm se (A man is known for his deeds and not his religion).
There is absolutely no sense is dealing with a person based on his/her religion. It doesn’t matter. Maulana Azad was the first Education Minister of India because he was capable of it.
I don’t hate Narendra Modi because he is a Hindu. I hate him because of his ideology, his principles and thus what kind of person he ACTUALLY is. I don’t like Dr. Manmohan Singh because he’s a Sikh. I like him because of the fact that he such a talented human who has done a lot for India. I don’t like President Obama because he is a Christian. I like him because of his tough journey and his overall persona.
There are many reasons of my liking for certain people. And none of them includes religion. Because religion is not in our hands. Our work is what makes us. Our behavior is what shapes us.