The Indo-Pak Conflict: A Story of Pride and Prejudice

[Photo Source: Screenshot/Eros International]

by Hera Ashraf

The conflicts between India and Pakistan are escalating as the two countries exchange fire across borders in Kashmir. Tensions intensified after last month’s terrorist attack on an Indian army base in Uri, Jammu, and Kashmir, which killed 19 Indian soldiers. India claimed that the attacks were carried out by Pakistan, and Pakistan denied such claims. This led to crossfire between the two countries, as they claimed to be retaliating to the other, with the people of Kashmir stuck in the middle.

The violent conflict is leading to tension between the people of the two countries. Bollywood banned Pakistani artists from working in the film industry. Indian artists who defended Pakistani artists are being attacked for being unpatriotic. Patriotic posts are being mistaken for hatred. The online war between the two nations is getting just as ugly as the physical war.

[Read Related: The Evolving World of Pakistani Dramas Builds Stronger Relations With India]

As a South Asian living in America, it’s heartbreaking to see all of this unfold. My parents moved to America from India over 25 years ago. Growing up, my parents always had both Indian and Pakistani friends. To me, I always saw South Asian countries as one unit because we are all the same people. The South Asian culture is so rich and diverse that there are obviously bound to be cultural differences, but I never felt many differences between my Pakistani friends and myself. At the end of the day, as American children of immigrant parents, we all faced the same struggles. Our parents moved to a foreign land with hopes of greater opportunity and strive to give us a secure future. We struggle to find a balance between our identities while not disappointing our parents. No matter what part of India my Indian friend is from or what language my Pakistani friend speaks, we always connect because we know how to learn from our differences and notice our similarities. To be honest, there’s a bond I share with my South Asian friends that I simply don’t have with anyone else.

[Read Related: Living As A Half-Indian, Half-Pakistani American: My Immigration Story]

While we see our respective motherlands as one, I do find that when it comes to anything India vs. Pakistan, we start to accentuate our divide. If I had a dollar for every time a Pakistani friend was shocked to hear I wasn’t Pakistani because I “don’t look Indian,” I would quit school and start retirement already. I see so many of my friends who have never been to India and don’t know how to speak their mother tongue fluently, yet are quick to correct a person when they’re called Pakistani, or vice versa. This is the mentality we really need to consider.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being patriotic. I am 100 percent #TeamIndia when it comes to any cricket match. But why do people have a die-hard pride for something they don’t completely understand? And this goes for people in India and Pakistan as well. We tend to care a lot about something we know nothing about.

The partition was a rough time for people in both countries. We all have great-grandparents, grandparents, parents who experienced losing their homes, businesses, and family members because of the war. They experienced the animosity first hand, and to have pride in your country for overcoming that is completely valid. On the flip side of the coin, there’s the pride that exists because we don’t understand the other side or refuse to. Without being able to consider that the other person across the border has the same feelings or perspective as you do, we’ll never be able to accept one another. We will never rise above these conflicts if we continue to perpetuate hatred and violence as the solution by dehumanizing each other.

I hope we are able to rise above our titles and embrace our similarities and differences with eagerness to learn, accept, and love. To see two countries, which were one people not that long ago, violently fight each other because of minor differences is disheartening to see in this day and age and is a step in the wrong direction.

Hera ashrafHera Ashraf is a graduate with a Biology degree, hoping to pursue medicine. She is a self-proclaimed foodie with a passion for desserts. Coffee and Bollywood are her two most favorite things. She loves to read, even though she barely gets time for it anymore. Brown Girl Magazine allows her to write about the things she loves and then shares it with the world. Her ultimate goal in life is to become a world wanderer.

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