If we can get a foreign passport, why can’t Adnan Sami get Indian nationality?

Published: January 4, 2016

The singer who was granted citizenship on January 1 described his experience as "life-changing" and "historic". PHOTO: INDIANSNEWS.COM

Recently, Adnan Sami Khan acquired the Indian nationality; this has infuriated many urban middle-class Pakistanis who think that he has committed some sort of ‘treason’ by becoming an Indian citizen. What is ironic is that some of my friends, who happen to be non-resident Pakistanis, are also raising severe objections. I find this reaction rather perplexing and even objectionable.

First of all, Adnan Sami Khan is an independent individual who has found fame and glory in India and his adopting Indian nationality is a reflection of this fact. India has made him far more famous and rich than he could ever be in Pakistan. This is in no way different from many Pakistanis adopting the US, Canadian or Australian nationality. A huge majority of us are ready to go to any extent to get residency in any of the aforementioned countries for the sake of earning better livelihoods. Just assume if the US relaxes its visa policy, what will happen? I can bet that half of our educated class will end up being in the US including those who claim to hate the US!

Eventually, no matter where we are born, our eventual residency is determined by our own rational interests and our ability to act in accordance with them. So given an opportunity, half of Pakistan would not act any different from Adnan Sami. This is a reality which we all know though do not say it for the sake of appearing ‘patriotic’.

My request to the hypocritical non-resident Pakistanis is that if you are that angry then you should first give up your foreign passports and come back to Pakistan. If you cannot make that ‘sacrifice’, better keep mum.

Our collective reaction to Adnan Sami adopting the Indian nationality is nothing but fake chest thumping hyperbolic patriotism, emanating from the fact that he opted for adopting the ‘Indian’ nationality. Our reaction is merely springing from the fact that we as a nation hate India but that hatred is misplaced and irrational as we have a close cultural affinity with Indians. We love their music and movies. We are more Indian than we care to admit.

Secondly, Adnan Sami is the son of a Pakistani diplomat and has experienced constant change throughout his life. His emotional bond with Pakistan is naturally not that strong. In fact, he was not even born in Pakistan – he was born in the UK. Even if he was born in Pakistan, we do not have the right to object to him obtaining the Indian nationality, especially not with our own track-record.

Thirdly, eventually, we have to realise that a nation is a modern construct. It is nothing but an imagined community. The world will actually be a better place if we stop being excessively sensitive about it. Yes it matters, but it should not matter to the extent that we get overly emotional about it. Eventually we are all humans and this world is our home.

I wish Adnan Sami Khan the best of luck as an Indian citizen and I will remain a fan of his enormous talent. Music, and for that matter all the performing arts, cannot be confined to borders. Whether Adnan Sami Khan is an Indian or Pakistani, he will continue to have fans in both the countries. I hope that he does his new country proud.


Raza Habib Raja

The author is a recent Cornell graduate and currently pursuing his PhD in political science at Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He has also worked for a leading development finance institution in Pakistan. He is a freelance journalist whose works have been published at Huffington Post, Dawn (Pakistan), Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Pak Tea House. He tweets @razaraja (twitter.com/razaraja?lang=en)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.