Dear Pakistani friend (not naming you because I want you to be safe),
The past fortnight has been difficult for us Indian citizens. While all lives matter, lives of those that are there in the line of fire because of our safety matter a little more. And their lives were snatched away because your state sat quietly and watched terrorists grow.
Today the fault lines are out in the open. And your Facebook post has made me cry. I will not pretend and downplay my patriotism. I love my country above all. But my dear friend I love you too.
We had bonded over the most unexpected common platform, a television show that has ended almost five years ago. But friendships and sisterhood did not end. Maybe that forum fell apart and we got busy with our lives, but the bond still remained sacred and strong.
You had taken this technically challenged friend under your wing. When my first book was launched, you had shared an original tune with me and also made a book trailer for me. You can never be the enemy my friend.
Not you, not the common Pakistani that worries for the safety of their loved ones; you are not my enemy. You are not the enemy of my country. I remember the pictures from the Peshawar school attack. I remember the young boy who was the only survivor in his class.
I also remember that day when you were unable to reach the man you love and were worried for his safety or how you vented out at not having uninterrupted power supply. That hot day in the month of April when I had got into an argument with the forum members, it was you who had stood by me, had taken a stand.
So you or a common Pakistani is not my enemy, nor the enemy of my people.
You say we laughed and cried together. We still want to do that. But for that to happen, my friend we need more participation from your side. In 2011, I had lamented and written an article on the 26/11 attacks and not just you, lot of other Pakistani readers had shared my grief.
Some had suggested this should reach the people in Delhi so that they make sure Kasab is dead. Remember the occasions when you we talked about our shared history, talked about our freedom movement and vented against the then common enemy the British.
We sang the same songs; you shared stories of Ramadan, while I shared stories of Durga Puja. For two days 14th-15th August we along with other members of the forum wished each other Happy Independence day.
There were ceasefires, there were violations and yet we chose to criticize together.
We mourned the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park massacre earlier this year; Indian Netizens on social media were shocked at Qandeel Baloch’s and Amjad Sabri’s murder. And I am sure you were also disturbed at unfortunate things happening in my country and are also upset with the Uri attack.
You asked if war is the only solution. No my friend it isn’t. Even as I write, hungry kids go to sleep in your country and mine, a woman fights to save her honor. War with guns and bullets is not what we need.
The power lies with you. The power lies in your anger. Peshawar or Gulshan-e-Iqbal angered you. The presence of Laden on your soil angered you. Then why don’t you share your anger with more people?
My countrymen and I are baffled at the tweets coming from your side. Is it so difficult to differentiate between a war against terrorism and hatred? Your people say they are the worst affected by terror. Then shouldn’t we together rejoice for what our army has done?
I am not blaming you. I am waiting for more Pakistanis to come forward and be my friend. And by friend I do not mean those that wear makeup, say a few dialogs, earn in INR and then refuse to mourn the death of our soldiers.
By friend I mean those with whom I and many other Indian Citizens will be able to grow with shared history, food, culture and our common war against terror.
I write this letter to you, to remind you I am still your friend. I also write this letter to reach more friends like you. The war against terror is much higher that politics. We do not need to know what your government is saying.
They are in denial and maybe you can stop another Peshawar, another Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park another Pathankot, another 26/11. Scream, grieve, show your wrath; but end these terror camps.
What have you achieved?
What have we achieved?
No my dear friend. There is no jingoism involved here. There is no glory in war. Ask the families of those nineteen men that died in Uri. Ask those parents that lost their kids in Peshawar. They will tell you what terror feels like.
Your artists chose to remain silent and it is not their presence on Indian soil that has hurt or angered us. It is their silence. Silence is consent. Silence is ignoring the pain of bleeding Indian Nationals.
I hope the common Pakistani will not remain silent. It is not between me and you, not between Indian Citizens and Pakistanis. Yes we still love to defeat you in the World Cup but for the commoner the war is limited to that level.
This is between humanity and terror. It is your choice my friend. You have the power to write. Write, offend, question. That is what art is for. Don’t let your silence kill more of your own.
Our soldier from the 37 Rashtriya Rifles, Chandu Chavan is just twenty-two and is now in Pakistani captivity. Our government will work to get him back. But I expect more from the Pakistani citizen.
Would the commoner in Pakistan take to social media and demand his release?
Write poems for his freedom?
His grandmother has died of shock. Chandu is on duty. He is not a terrorist. He is not a Fidayeen. He deserves freedom. He should not be another Sarbjit. Would you fight for him? Would the idea of ‘people to people contact’ win at least once?
We will laugh and cry together again. Someday when you will speak up, someday when you will condemn, we will win this battle together. Till then take care my friend.
Your friend from India.