Moving Forward Toward India-Pakistan Peace
Start writing a post
Politics

Moving Forward Toward India-Pakistan Peace

Sheza Iqbal on social justice in a cultural context.

17
Moving Forward Toward India-Pakistan Peace
Sheza Iqbal @ United Youth of India-Pakistan

The text on the cover image reads:

“Dushmani aur nafrat se zameen par lakeerein kheenchi jaa sakti hain...dilon par nahin.”

Our hearts cannot be divided by hate any longer. We will not allow it. Love will always prevail, and we must encourage it all we can.

In my previous article about activist Sheza Iqbal, we discussed the violent, complex history of India and Pakistan, a history and present tainted by colonialism, corrupt governments, and religious extremism on both sides. Today, I am going to share her thoughts on how to move forward from decades of hate and the violent memory of Partition, and finally secure her goal: peace between India and Pakistan.

Iqbal is the United States based administrator of the wildly popular Facebook group United Youth of India-Pakistan. As someone whose family migrated from India to Pakistan in 1947, and as someone who now spends most of her time in the United States, Iqbal approaches the two nations with a unique perspective. She grew up seeing the similarities between Indians and Pakistanis, as well as their differences; the good and the bad from both sides of a recently created border. This perspective has inspired her goals for the Facebook group, including peace and friendship-based events in neutral territory for Indians and Pakistanis, and in the further future, fighting to ease visa restrictions between the two nations.

When asked about her goals for the group, Iqbal is clearly practiced in explaining her vision. She wants to “bring [back] a pre-Partition harmony that was quite strong. I want to see many Indians and Pakistanis reaching out and seeing the similarities between them.” This may appear simple or common-sense to the average Westerner. Iqbal herself acknowledges that Americans need to “branch out [from a preoccupation with domestic issues]” when it comes to politics around the globe. When considering the history of the nations, and the current political situation between them, the true difficulty of her quest shines through.

Religion has long been used as a tool for violence, dividing those with cultural and spatial similarities. India and Pakistan are no exception. Iqbal finds fault with India for its radical Hindu Nationalism (content warning for violence and mention of rape at the link) and the violence that has come with it. Across the border, Pakistan must begin working harder to combat extremist terrorism from within. She also emphasizes that both sides must do better at condemning senseless violence against religious minorities in the area, like Christians and Shi'ite Muslims.

Iqbal does not want to see religion leave the public sphere entirely, asserting that religion does have a place in society at large. She simply wants to see the removal of the religious extremists in the government and media, who highly influence the average Indian and Pakistani citizen with warped, bigoted views. In discussing this, Iqbal expresses a sentiment felt by members of every nation: “We just need to stop trusting the government [and] the media.” She follows this with another uncomfortably familiar concern: that both sides are more concerned with nationalism than with human rights.

For Indian and Pakistani activists like Iqbal, there is another issue to contend with in their work coming from outside the nations. That is the presence of activists from the United States who want to “help,” but do so in ignorance. Iqbal laments the problems and misconceptions that these activists bring with them: they speak of the India-Pakistan narrative with assumptions of Western superiority and with deep-seated notions of white saviorism. This is compounded, Iqbal notes, by sheer number of educated citizens leaving these nations for the United States, furthering the toxic idea of Western superiority.

To move forward, Iqbal says that activism must be practiced in a cultural context: educating Indians and Pakistanis (especially the youth) on cultural practices and identity is a must. With this will come the natural realization of similarities between two groups of people who should never have been separated. “Our leaders [from both nations] had a better vision for us. Enough is enough; it’s time we did them proud,” she asserts. “We easily fell victim to politics and bigotry, and it’s time to honor [our leaders’] memories.”

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

Leaving My Backpack In The Library

Views about society and the stranger sitting right across from me

13190
https://unsplash.com/photos/O0T1SIgHAfM

As a college student, my backpack is an extension of myself in many ways. It contains my notes, pens, and computer vital for my success in college. It contains the snacks and water bottle I need to survive long days on campus. It also contains the "in-case" items that help put my mind at rest if I forgot something from home: extra hair ties, masks, and that backup-backup snack. With so much in my backpack important to me and my life on campus, it is no wonder that I can get apprehensive about it when it is not with me or in my line of sight. And that makes me wonder.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

5 Cool Gadgets To Make Your Car Smart

Don't let this stop you from making your car smart. You can change the one you have using smart gadgets that transform your car into a smart car.

85963

Cars are no longer just a mode of transport, where you only worry about the engine and how beautiful its interior is. These days, everyone wants to make their cars smarter, those with advanced technology systems. It makes sense for several reasons. It can make your vehicle more efficient and safer when you need to drive.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The Inevitable Truth of Loss

You're going to be okay.

113746

As we humans face loss and grief on a daily basis, it's challenging to see the good in all the change. Here's a better perspective on how we can deal with this inevitable feeling and why it could help us grow.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

'Venom: Let There Be Carnage' Film Review

Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson lead a tigher, more fun sequel to 2018's 'Venom'

96736
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FmWuCgJmxo

When Sony announced that Venom would be getting a stand-alone movie, outside of the Tom Holland MCU Spider-Man films, and intended to start its own separate shared universe of films, the reactions were generally not that kind. Even if Tom Hardy was going to take on the role, why would you take Venom, so intrinsically connected to Spider-Man's comic book roots, and remove all of that for cheap action spectacle?

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

'The Addams Family 2' Film Review

The sequel to the 2019 reboot is an enjoyable, but unremarkable start to the Halloween movie season

62954
Photo Credit: MGM – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kd82bSBDE84

There's a reason why the Addams Family have become icons of the American cartoon pantheon (although having one of the catchiest theme songs in television history doesn't hinder them).

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments