Thursday, January 10, 2013

Am I An Indian Convert To Pakistani?

An Indian reader using a Pakistani name emailed me a response to my column 'India & Hate' telling me that I was basically a Hindu convert who shouldn't write criticizing the policies of Mother India.

He suggested that Allama Iqbal, Pakistan's national poet, would endorse the idea of being Indian and so I shouldn't object.

I gave him a short reply which I'm sharing here:

"My forefathers were Arab with extensive intermarriages with Afghans, Turks and possibly Indians. This makes me a thorough Pakistani. Allama Iqbal wrote his poetry in Persian, Urdu and some Arabic. I see many Pakistanis with Aryan ancestry/cultural links, like some Sindhis, Kashmiris, Baloch, and the Rajputs in Punjab and others. Even Indians who converted to Islam are now part and parcel of the Pakistani ethnicity and identity. [Yoy probably don't know that a majority of the original Indians living under Muslim rule remained Hindu, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We respect our neighbors.]  
I respect Indian people and culture. My criticism is focused on Indian policies toward Pakistan and in the region. But at the same time, I don’t see Pakistanis as Indians. And I certainly am not a Pakistani descendant of Indian Hindu converts. But even if I were, there's nothing wrong with that. I don’t care if there are Pakistanis who come from that descent. My only concern is that almost all Pakistanis share distinct ethnic and cultural backgrounds, most of them similar, which make them Pakistanis.  
My advice to you: Focus on the political disputes between Pakistan and India and don't worry too much about Pakistani ancestry.  One good area most Indians should focus on is the fact that India’s Hindi-speaking ruling minority continues to use religion, Hinduism, to create and perpetuate problems with Pakistan and leads other non-Hindi speaking Indians to wars and conflict.  
Don’t concern yourself about the history of Pakistanis. Pakistan emerged in 1947 but has a history that goes back at least ten centuries of Muslim dynastic rule in Central and South Asia. Pakistan and Pakistanis inherited this history and culture as their historical and cultural legacy. Even the ancient, pre-Islamic history of Pakistan sets this country apart from the landmass to our east."

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