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I can recount the day India played a T-20 match with Pakistan in Bangalore.

I wasn’t as excited about the match as much as my friends were.

While some bunked their lectures and tussled with the warden to watch TV in the hostel, others warily kept count of the score inside the class through their phones.

It was amusing to watch the spirit of people and participate with them in slogan-shouting. But there was also something that I noticed which worried me. It appeared as if people desired Pakistan to lose, more than their desire of India to win. This raised an important question in my mind.

Do we hate Pakistan more than we love India?

This wasn’t the only incident to spark such a thought. I’ve seen videos, heard people talk and give speeches about Pakistan in an extremely judgemental way. With that, I’ve come to realize that the main battle wasn’t at the border per se, but in people’s minds.

Divided by Dogmas

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We Indians have fabricated a slew of beliefs about Pakistani people – for instance, we think they are intolerant, orthodox and aggressive. These beliefs are nothing but dogmas responsible for the burgeoning hatred.

A lot of these dogmas existing in our society have to do with how we’re brought up. Kids born with parents who’re prejudiced or studied with friends who dislike Pakistani people, tend to adopt these dogmas naturally.

Oftentimes, a difference in religious viewpoints also reinforces this negative image we have of Pakistani people. This happens the most when terror strikes a country. People see that terrorists are Muslims, and think that Pakistan, being a Muslim nation, must have people who support terrorism. This is erroneous.

The reality is that even Pakistani people suffer because of terrorism.

Though it’s difficult to figure out how exactly these dogmas came into being, it’s possible to discard them through awareness. The video below shows that many people in our country even today are averse towards Pakistanis.

Here are a few quotes from the video.

“I love nothing about Pakistan. All that I hate is nature of the people and humanity which they don’t have.”

“My blood boils when I hear about Pakistan.”

These preconceived notions distance us from them. To add to the misfortune, these dogmas get further amplified by the firings at the border, terror attacks, political rivalries and their coverage on media.

The Impact of Media

We all know about the recent attacks by Pakistan on Indian soldiers at the border. We’ve seen opposition parties raise questions, people fume with anger and Arnab Goswami go bonkers over the issue. This isn’t wrong.

Expressing anguish and debating over a serious matter such as this is crucial. But the problem occurs when media uses such incidents to boost viewership, and when we define a Pakistani based only on media’s reflection of the incident.

It’s our sole responsibility to not get influenced by media or any political party for that matter. It’s important to get our facts right before coming to a conclusion.

Puppets of People in Power

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that we’re puppets of those hidden away in their high rises and heavily armed houses. Most of the problems that are happening across the border are not under our control.

Take for instance the water dispute between India and Pakistan. The state officials of Pakistan have in the past blamed India for having constructed dams and hydropower projects on rivers that flow between the two countries. Naturally this is bound to cause a water shortage in Pakistan.

On the other hand, it’s a known fact that the ISI — a secret service of Pakistan — led the 26/11 Mumbai attacks through David Headley. Though everyone knows about it, the real question is how is he still roaming free?

Clearly, both the governments are at fault here. Authorities of both countries are causing problems and ruining each other’s peace of mind. The common people of both countries, who have nothing to do with these issues, suffer mercilessly as a result.

The Thin Line Between Patriotism and Racism

Freezing in an attention position when the national anthem is played, cheering the Indian team in a stadium or sitting in a dharna, while at the same time having prejudices about another country does not make you a patriot.

Some people have gotten the idea of patriotism completely wrong. No matter how much you love your country, if you’ve to think before you hug a Pakistani, you’re not a patriot. That’s downright racism.

There is a thin a line of difference between Patriotism and Racism.

Patriotism is more about unity than getting enraged over differences. Patriotism is about empathizing without a political or personal agenda. In simple words, patriotism is just standing up for humanity.

Break away from such false defintions and beliefs about Pakistanis, and look into their hearts. You’ll see a world full of similarities.

United by Emotions

Though India and Pakistan seem to have quite a few differences in opinions and ideas, people of both countries are similar in many ways. For instance, both countries love cricket. It’s less a game and more of a religion in both countries.

The food enjoyed in both countries isn’t drastically different. Whether it’s biriyani, chicken tikka, naan, roti, gajar ka halwa, jalebi or laddoo, both Indians and Pakistanis savour them with equal delight.

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Then there’s movies. Well, it’s not a surprising fact that Pakistanis are huge Bollywood buffs. They watch most Bollywood flicks, sing along to Bollywood songs and enjoy humour, action and romance just like we do.

There are many reality shows running in both countries that encourage talent to compete for the greater good, regardless of where they’re from. The video below is from the popular Indian music reality show called Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. The performing singer is a participant from Pakistan.

Pakistani singers like Adnan Sami, Ghulam Ali, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Arif Lohar and Atif Aslam have garnered much praise in India for their music.

Actors such as Ali Zafar, Javed Sheikh, Veena Malik and Mona Lizza have worked in Bollywood films and attained fame as well.

Image Source: The South Asian Insider

Sharing the Same Problems

Apart from art, culture, music and movies, Pakistan and India both have similar problems as well. Both fight terrorism, corruption, poverty, and women’s inequality on a daily basis.

Though India can rightly call itself a rising economy, let’s face it, the country shares an equal amount of cracks in infrastructure as Pakistan. Bad roads, ageing railways, power cuts and the absence of sanitation is still one of the primary pitfalls of both the countries.

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Don’t forget that we were once the same country

Before 1947, when Pakistan was a part of India, things were quite peaceful.

Muslims and Hindus accepted each other, didn’t kill in the name of God and saw each other as fellow human beings. It was the strategy of the British back then to divide us so they could rule us – in which they succeeded too. But that doesn’t mean we must endure its consequences even today.

Let’s look back to a time when we Indians and Pakistanis were brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, friends and mentors to each other and not enemies, competitors or opposers. Only then can we relate to each others problems and solve them together.

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Our Responsibility

It’s easy to blame the government for the problems between the two countries. Perhaps that’s what most of us even do. But if you truly don’t want hatred to spread, you’ve to take some responsibility.

Some groups have already initiated efforts for breaking the India-Pakistan barrier. AIB, the stand-up comedy team, which currently has one of the fastest growing YouTube channels in India created this video in which people of both countries wished each other on independence day.

O&M, Mumbai created this ad for Google India which warmly portrays the friendship between a Pakistani and an Indian who reunite after the partition.

The beverage brand Coca-Cola created Small World Machines which allowed people of both countries to gift a can of Coca-Cola to each other.

Many companies, groups and individuals are doing what they can to settle disputes between the two countries. Many reality shows are trying to mend the wounds. We too on our individual levels can do something.

We can break stereotypes, ditch dogmas, learn about their country and lifestyle, be open about cross-cultural marriages, have religious tolerance, encourage our kids to accept Pakistanis with love, and bond through sports, music and movies.

Sure, there might always be problems at the border, but only if we settle the disputes that we’ve in our minds, can we heal the scars of the past and have a future when the two countries are in harmony.

Think of the superpower we could become if we unified

Both India and Pakistan possess an incredible pool of talent. Both countries have some of the best actors, comedians, singers, sportspeople, writers and thinkers.

Can you imagine how powerful we’d be as a team if both Pakistan and the Indian Cricket team were combined? Similarly, combine the artists of both countries and imagine the wealth of creativity that would well up. Do you think there could be any country in the world that could match our potential?

We’re underestimating the power of this unified team. The economical, political and religious challenges that we face today could be dealt with a combined team of talent. The money that’s being wasted on attacking each other could be used on developments, connections and positive propaganda. The dreams that we dream together would be bigger, stronger and bolder.

Simply put, we would become a force that could conquer the world – but only if we’d conquer our minds first.

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