Dear Paresh Rawal, “you can change friends, but not neighbours”. Love, Pakistan

Published: June 16, 2017

BJP member of Parliament and Bollywood actor Paresh Rawal. PHOTO: AFP

Dear Paresh Rawal,

Writing this letter to you was difficult since I did not know where to begin, and I feel that the rapidly changing dynamics of India-Pakistan relations and this letter are quite similar in this regard.

However, let us focus on the reason why I have written this letter before we get on to the seesaw that our countries have been riding over the last seven decades.

Hera Pheri was your first movie I watched in my childhood, and believe me when I say it still triggers fits of laughter every single time I watch it. Babu bhaiya has thousands of fans in your neighbourhood too, just like Bollywood movies and fraternities, which have a very special place in the hearts of Pakistanis.

From our weddings and birthday parties to any other gleeful occasion, Bollywood songs are an integral part. And there is no harm in dancing to the beat of songs composed in India, nor is it a sign of any kind of subservience. Art is a common heritage, which is what we have observed over the years. Bollywood masterpieces like Omkara and Haider are clear vindications of this stance.

And who can forget Andaz Apna Apna’s Teja? The film has a cult following in Pakistan too, and the dialogues of Teja’s character are quoted on relevant occasions to date. NayakHungama and Aankhen are also remembered by your name here. As mentioned earlier, art is a shared heritage, and it might have the stamp of one country or another on it, but the extent of its outreach and dissemination cannot be circumvented. You have got your fans on this side of the border, and there is no denying the fact.

Nevertheless, it is not only art in the form of literature, movies, dramas, songs, paintings, sculptures and more that touches and effects people. The performers are equally eyed as a priceless asset by the followers. Your political affiliation and niche in the Lok Sabha are not unknown to anyone. Yet for us, your Pakistani fans, you are and always will be the kind and caring Hemant from Baghban. Therefore, every statement and remark of yours and your fellows regarding any situation is noted by and gravely affects the sentiments of those sitting on the western side of the Radcliffe Line.

While the Kashmir conflict is a bone of contention between the two countries, the Ayodhya dispute is one within India. Nevertheless, we have witnessed several incidents of inter-faith harmony on both stretches of land which do not let our hopes for a peaceful and prosperous shared future wane.

Cultural exchange is one medium of rejuvenating the prospects, and cricket is another such instrument. It is true that a cricket match between the greens and the blues is over-hyped as a crucial battle and the winning side holds this victory as a major accomplishment; yet at the end of the day, the expatriates from both countries, as well as peace-loving denizens from both the sides, continue to work together. Nothing changes.

Despite these matches being celebrated as Armageddon, the world does not end. I realise that many of the worthy readers will laugh at me because I am a Pakistani and definitely have no other option but to justify the unpredictability of my national cricket team, but this is not the case. It is not my case to fight, nor am I capable enough to comment. However, I know this with certainty that June 13, 2017 was certainly not the date when the Pakistan cricket team packed their bags and landed at the Lahore airport.

Our respect for our neighbour did not wither away even when Rishi Kapoor tweeted about bluing us. The apparent outcomes of tossing a coin are heads and tails, but there always is a third probability, and that is what we should actually be looking for.

Whether we are blued or you are greened, the cricket match itself should be played with a jovial spirit, and you being the ambassadors of your country and having a huge fan following in Pakistan should impress us with your willingness to promote harmony.

Nonetheless, even if you choose the path you have already taken, that is, of trolling us, we will love you by appreciating and enjoying your work. Your tweets and Facebook posts are hailed as much as your films. Therefore, Kapoor’s happy-ending movies like Amar Akbar AnthonyChandniDo Dooni Chaar, and Kapoor & Sons will always be preferred to his recent tweets because the former have conveyed the message of love, cordiality and friendship, while the latter that of utter hatred and competition. And we, Pakistanis are a peace-loving nation.

Like I said, these things do not matter and are not worth extinguishing the kindle of hope. The high esteem you have gained through your work and the respect that you have earned over the years is way more than a single tweet that hurt your Pakistani fans. Yet, we are not pessimistic about the whole situation. To quote your former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee,

“You can change friends but not neighbours.”

Similarly, history cannot be undone, no matter how harsh or bitter the reality is. Time goes on, through which we learn that nothing remains stagnant. Dynamics have changed and will continue to change, and it is this very permutation of events that we all have to acknowledge and live by.

Why not give peace a chance? Why not respect each other despite all the differences? Why not embrace the diversity which, in actuality, broadens the spectrum and makes this planet a common home for everyone? Why not regard each other’s failure with dignity and cherish all the successes together? When clusters of clouds do not hesitate in precipitating on two lands at once, why are we so reluctant to show our feelings?

If demarcating a land into two was not an impossibility, then how could connecting millions of hearts over this line be so difficult? We, as two nations, have borne and accepted much worse; let’s give deference and tranquility a chance. It can work wonders for us.


Green Pakistan

Aminah Qureshi

Aminah Qureshi

The author is a student of Biotechnology with an interest in current affairs, politics and journalism.

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

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    Well Author, God forbid , no one should have a neighbor like you.Recommend

  • Amer Lodi

    Good article…!!!!Recommend

  • 2#

    oh You’re already done by then i guess unfortunatelyRecommend

  • Yogi Berra

    She actually wrote…Pakistanis and peace loving people. Can you believe it? Ask Afghans, Bangla, UK, US, Indians if they agree.Recommend

  • Yogi Berra

    Worry about Muslims. They are in trouble every where because of their won designs.Recommend

  • Duniya Hasan

    When former South African captain smith said “Pakistan Zindabad” after Pakistan won from S.A. in CT he was trolled by indian fans. Why? We hardly consider India our neighbor more than half of our country dont share any culture with india. If indians stop using Urdu in Bollywood it would change everything we would be aliens to each others Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    India can shift to a different neighborhood.Recommend

  • MJ Zahid Zahid

    Wonderful. This should be the boldness like a true man. So akhil u changed your neighbours and we are and we will try our best to change our neighbours in future as well. Following same Chankiya rule so better ask people at your side to stop weeping about terrorism from our side. We are simply trying to change our neighbour as well. Kashmir Khalistan then in your Desert side in Western side……our.recently started investment bearing fruits. We also wish good luck for Bangladesh Nepal and Srilanka ….so we are also helping them …Nagaland Sakkum TamilNadu…..u keep trying in Baluchistan and Karachi.

    Regards and best of LOOK.Recommend

  • Sane

    She is also a beef eater. But, fortunately not lives in India.Recommend

  • Sane

    Look who says what? You kill people labeling beef eater and also those who want freedom.Recommend

  • Sane

    You are losing Kashmir. Take care, before a series of losses starts.Recommend

  • Sane

    Indians are colored GREEN. This defeat shall be taught in Indian cricket academies for years to come. Indians need to learn how to avert and extremely humiliating defeat. Boasting and tall claims do not work.Recommend

  • Yogi Berra

    Beef eating is crime in India. Obey the law of the land or get out of our India.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Dunyia, it is very hard to lay this on you, but you are dead wrong.
    Hinduland is the next door neighbor of Land of the Pure. Permanently.
    It matters not who accepts it or does not. Countries simply do not have the luxury of choosing their neighbors. Just like people. Remember,
    Urdu is the Lingua Franca from Afghanistan to Myanmar, to Sri Lanka.
    Ask Nepal, China, Myanmar, Sri Lanka…[Bangladesh is a Hindustani colony] Bhutan, to describe Bharat,…they have one word ….yeechh !
    [they also use other words that cannot be printed here]
    Afghanistan is Bharat Junior, or Son of India. Either way will do.
    If you look objectively, there are quite few things you share with
    hindus. Clothes, [Shalwar/Qameez, Kurtas, Saris] Cuisine, Basant, Cricket, Hockey…….you get the drift.
    There is one major, huge, difference though,… in Hindustan, 70% of
    the population does not have toilets….karma….Recommend

  • Duniya Hasan

    Urdu was born under Persians and turn rule, if Urdu hadn’t been born the official language of Pakistan would have been Farsi. I wonder how Indians understand Pakistani dramas then they watch which have heavy Urdu vocab words? In Bollywood movies there are no heavy hindi words its mostly Urdu when it comes to heavy words which we can understand the rest is mainly hindi-english mixed dialogues.Recommend

  • Duniya Hasan

    Hindi is a slang of beautiful poetic Urdu language. you think you are speaking hindi but you are using Arabic, farsi and turk words. Next time pay attention to words when you speak hindi you will feel it is slang of urdu and the words you use are mostly none Hindi. Your not even Aryans, Aryans invasion took place in pakland.
    We speak a language which was developed by Persians/Turks the name URDU means an army in turkish. Most of the dishes in Indian sub continent have origin in middle East even the most popular road snack Samosa does not belong to sub continent its middle eastern among other dishes. Pakistanis don’t eat daalbhat which is your national dish on banana leaf, Pakistani national dish is Nihari. Our national dress is Salwar Kameez, Indian national dress is Saree for women and langota for men. You steal pakistani songs and call them indian , you call pakistani classical music as hinduistani classical music, You borrowed your country name from pakland after Muslim leaders decided to name northern western land as Pakistan… mahatama Gandhi called hinduistan as India hoping to keep the unity, he even kept hindi as national language of hinduistan because pak national language was Urdu. You try to copy us in so many ways.
    We don’t want to be Arabs we only share religion with them nor we share anything with current india we are mixture people many empires who ruled our land once and we are proud. It is you indians who keep assocating with us. Have you seen any Pakistani associating with india?Recommend

  • Tommy Gunn

    Please educate yourself ma’m. Actually when you are speaking Urdu, you are speaking 80-90% Hindi with the rest being persian, arabic etc. In any case it is irrelevant that Urdu has foreign influences because it still does not change the fact that Urdu originated from what is presently India. Before the partition, nobody in what is today Pakistan spoke Urdu. They spoke Sindhi, Pashto, Punjabi, Balochi etc. Urdu was shoved down Pakistan’s throat by Jinnah. That is why the people who migrated to Pakistan from India are still called “Urdu speakers” in Pakistan. Whether you accept or not, the reality is that Pakistan has always lived in India’s shadows since its creation, whether its langage, food, attire, arts, music etc.

    As for Indians wanting to associate with Pakistan, you are very much mistaken. Maybe the generation that lived the partition had a soft corner for Pakistan but today Indians don’t want anything to do with Pakistan & given Pakistan’s horrendous global reputation you can’t blame them. In fact go the the US & west sometime and you’ll see Pakistanis calling themselves Indians in order to get some respect & not treated as terrorists. I have come across at least 3 such cases in the US.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Basically Bullpucky in triplicate. Doubt it very much that you
    are from the borough of Manhattan. Doubt it very much that
    you are a Punjabi. Doubt it that you are any fairer than a
    Gujrati or a Maharashtrian or a Bengali. What’s your caste?
    However, if you come out of Penn Central, in Manhattan, on the 7th. Ave. side, first thing you will notice is this hindu woman selling newspapers in shalwar/qameez. [bought the NYT from her many times]. She never looks you in the eyes.
    You go further down 7th. you will see yellow cabs congregating, that’s where the best desi food in Manhattan is found. Cheap and very good.
    For your information the hindus are found in New Jersey. Edison, NJ to be exact. The whole city is overtaken by them. It’s Hindutown. Even the store signs are in worm like hindi writing. There are very few hindus in Manhattan. Hardly. Maybe they live Bronx. Maybe Queens, definitely Harlem, in subsidized housing.
    Also the Hindustanis and Paks get along very well with each
    other, in US and other countries. Once they are away from the toxic environment, they act civilized. YOU being the exception.
    There is only one thing to remember, your PM is known as
    the Butcher of Gujrat.
    Oh! he was at Madison Square Gardens, over Penn Central.Recommend

  • Duniya Hasan

    The FACT is india don’t have a national language while pakistan has its own national langauge, an other fact all your history including religion, name of your country is derived from my land even the name of Punjab is Persian. YOU have nothing to be proud of. If you take Pakistani land out of the pic you don’t exist.

    I’m sorry what was that? Indians living in north india are fair? What is north india? Are you joking with me? The so called North Indians are as dark as South indians, look at Bihar, UP, Haryana, Dehli, Rajistan, Gujrat. I have come across mostly with north Indians they look like people from South Pakistan even tho india shares border with Pakistan, Indians have mostly different face features and tend to be more darker than Pakistanis.

    I’m sorry I heard New York, California and Chicago only have Sikh cab drivers? That’s what they show in movies and media. Also India has 1.5 billion more people than Pakistan don’t tell me that your huge insane population doesn’t play any role in you claiming to be a successful nation….not to mention without some Southern states in india which holds most of your economy Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Soon Balochistan will be Bharat Junior and so also Sindh, Gilgit Baltisthan and Pakhtunkhwa.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Arya means noble man in Sanskrit. What is Aryan? Anglos and Germans created a fake race called Aryan because their own ancestral history was wiped out by Romans after Xianization/brutalizationRecommend

  • Salim Alvi

    soon India will have new neighbors Sindhudesh and Balochistan.Recommend

  • LS

    Wow – Have you ever looked at the gender gap index from WEF? Pakistanis is the penultimate country in that report. At least we report the rape, convict and jail the criminals and a punishment is handed out. Unlike pakistan that hides its rapes, rarely reports them, victims are jailed and they are asked to produce 4 male witness to support their claim so no one comes forward.

    Here is the how it is measured: This includes safety, health and survival

    It blows my mind when pakis preach not knowing where they themselves stand.Recommend

  • Shilpa

    You really need to search within this own newspaper’s archives to overcome this myth about Urdu. Read “Myths about the Urdu language” found within this newspaper’s archives for example. There are countless other articles that share a similar view, if only you really care about finding out.

    As for understanding Pakistani dramas, much like I said before in my earlier post, there are a lot of Urdu words we’d have to Google to find out the meaning of. However, the commonality between Hindi and Urdu allows people from both sides to grasp what the other is saying in sentences and thereby grasp the broad meaning, if not word by word.Recommend

  • Shilpa

    feel free to believe that. Seems it makes you feel good, so carry on.Recommend