Pakistan’s (love) hate affair with India

Published: August 27, 2011
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One wonders if there is an overlap between the two cultures. PHOTO: REUTERS

While contemplating the widely proclaimed idea of nations bearing distinct personalities, my thoughts recently forayed into what diagnosis a shrink would have proposed for Pakistan as a ‘person’, considering the events that it has endured. The country’s genesis in the year 1947 as a result of a disturbing, gory and a relentless bloodbath with its Siamese twin (though many would call it our step-brother) left the nation in  an erratic frame of mind.

We can not dispute the fact that there have been numerous skirmishes in Pakistan’s early years with its so-called brother, followed by  a serious scuffle over the ownership rights on Pakistan’s favorite ‘Cashmere sweater’ – a nickname circulating in literary circles these days. Many may remember the same, as a confrontation in which Pakistan got a good thrashing. This, and many other instances, mark an unsettling and belligerent period of relations Pakistan has experienced with India in their chequered course of history.

Now transforming the personality-disorder-inflicted person back to its origins of a proud nation of 170 million, we discover that regardless of the age factor, every individual around loves to hate our neighboring country with a vengeance. This torrid emotion is witnessed particularly in a cricket match confrontation. We behave as if the showdown is not in the stadium but in the battlefield. The fervor and devotion tantamounts to religious zeal, so much so that country’s leadership declares a half day public holiday on account of the world cup. The media spins everyone into utter frenzy branding it as a battle of nerves and what not!

A country we passionately abhor – a sentiment obvious in so many ways – calls for this detestation to manifest across all genres. However, one is simply appalled at the contradiction of behavior in certain areas. We are at loggerheads when it comes to any competition be it sport, academics, corporate platform or any other forum where Pakistan is versus India, but when it comes to Bollywood, we act as if the biggest fan-followers of this multi-billion industry reside only in Pakistan on the world map! We are totally enamored with their silver screen stars. The latest songs are blaring through the headphones of our iPods or CD players, we are dancing to their tunes in our weddings. We await the new releases and queue up for hours just to catch the premier shows as if each is going to be the last one! We can’t help swooning over the Ashs, the Sushs, the Big Bs and the Khans! Iifa and Star Plus awards become an occasion for the family to huddle up in front of the telly, and the next day office conversation revolves around a full running commentary of what who was wearing or not wearing, carrying, dancing and singing!

We don’t want to waste a single opportunity of missing out on an Indian dress designer item should anyone in our immediate or extended circle happen to cross the border. There is a long list of shopping items, particularly reserved for that part, which so doesn’t exhaust, and gets ridiculous to the core including things such as imitation jewelry. Things which are commonly available in our local markets at every furlong!

The madness doesn’t end here; we take so much pride in getting the bridal outfits and trousseau made from the Indian designers. The ten functions as per ‘our’ norms in a typical wedding are inspired by the ‘big brother’ country too! We have even started celebrating the occasion of ‘Holi’ which involves playing with colors, which is fine, but then why the hate? Serious bi-polar disease!

Now come back to the burning passion we sport against the country, fierce competition, larger than life egos, the violent sagas of the Siamese twins, favorite ‘cashmere sweater’ conflict and the overwhelming cricket fever. What a stark contrast!! Are we a confused nation or what? Or do we suffer from a dichotomy of character or has the personality disorder of the country trickled down to every citizen inhabiting in it? As countries do we share a common culture or we never had the originality to create our own version or we conveniently became guilty of plagiarism as far as rituals and practices are concerned.

It seems puzzling to an onlooker but one wonders if there is an overlap between the two cultures. If yes, then why didn’t our culture get transported to that side of the divide? Why haven’t our ‘Meeras’ and ‘Reemas’ taken the lead in making their places in the hearts of Indian youth, or our ‘Shaans’ and ‘Kiran Kahanis’ adorned billboards on their thoroughfares and idiot boxes respectively?

Are the explanations to these anomalies grounded in the pages of history or is it the evolution theory that has gradually brainwashed us into fading the lines of novelty and adopting borrowed practices…

I ask myself why this generation was brought up hating the neighbor, especially if every social and cultural norm of theirs is admired here – is there a collective personality disorder here?

sirajuddin.aziz

Sirajuddin Aziz

The author is a senior banker with extensive national and international banking experience. He is currently the CEO of a financial institution.

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