At a time when relations between India and Pakistan have sunk so low that they have virtually stopped talking to each other, a story in a newspaper has brought a smile on the face of peaceniks who crave for good relations between the two nations.
Gajinder Singh, a Chandigarh-based journalist, writes in the National Herald that a Sikh farmer in the border state of Punjab named his two sons Bharat and Pakistan.
The brothers, aged 12 and 10 respectively, love each other like siblings the world over even though they have occasional tiffs. Singh’s scoop has led to a flurry of follow-ups in the print and electronic media.
“Remarkably enough, this extraordinary story has come to light even as India and Pakistan are observing the 70th anniversary of their independence”, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, author of Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times and an expert on right-wing politics, told Al Arabiya English.
“The unlettered father, Gurmeet Singh of Muktsar district, obviously wants India and Pakistan to live in peace and harmony like brothers but that’s a tall order considering the current political climate in our country and its fallout across the border.”
“Anyway I believe that Independence Day is not an occasion to celebrate but to regret the partition that extracted such a heavy price and is proving to be a curse for the sub-continent even after seven decades. In that context, the real life tale of Bharat and Pakistan growing up as brothers is a feel-good story rooted in our misfortune,” Mukhopadhyay said.
Migrants from Pakistan
Gurmeet, whose grandparents migrated from Pakistan, says that his family suffered immensely due to wars between the two countries and christening his sons Bharat and Pakistan sums up his genuine desire that New Delhi and Islamabad bury the hatchet for good.
“I have a lump in my throat after reading the story of two brothers coming of age as Bharat and Pakistan. I turned very emotional”, says Shahenshah Mirza, a Finance Ministry officer in Kolkata, capital of India’s West Bengal state.
His sister lives in Karachi. But traveling between India and Pakistan is hostage to the never-ending problems between the two governments. Visas are a big headache. Flights are few and very expensive. Moreover both governments insist on visitors presenting themselves before the police on arrival and before departure to prove their bona fides.
The Mirzas suffer as they are a divided family with relatives scattered across the border. To circumvent India-Pakistan tensions, family reunions or even marriages are solemnized in neutral venues like Dubai to avoid intractable visa hassles.
“Nothing could be better than India and Pakistan behaving like brothers who respect each other’s sensitivities and resolve differences before they become disputes”, said Mirza.
According to him, Gurmeet’s liberal spirit shows that there is a huge peace constituency in India, which wants the partition twins to live as brothers and not adversaries. “And it’s never too late,” he said.