One summer, while visiting some family in Chicago, we all went to the famous Devon street for some food and shopping. We passed by a few Pakistani shops and the constant chatter in Urdu confused my young nephew. And like only a nine year old kid could, he asked, “Yeh log Indian hain kya ?”
I know that if nothing else, a lot of India and Pakistan share linguistic bonds. Two recent political formations in South Asia, the Mughal Empire and British rule, included today’s Pakistan and much of today’s northern India. And many, many things that Indians and Pakistanis do, eat and say today, derive from those political formations. So I agree when Raja says,
There is something about India as an idea which transcends the modern day political configurations. It is the idea of India as a huge mass of land which stretches from Baluchistan to present day Bangladesh. This idea of India is independent of any political configuration.
I applaud him when he calls himself a ‘Pakistani Indian’. Indeed, a little reflection will make one realize that Raja calling himself a ‘Pakistani Indian’, is not very different from an American of Indian descent calling him/herself an ‘Indian American’.
In the long term evolution of a civilization, political configurations do impact culture and identity very strongly. It is always a challenge for different ideas of nationalism to co-exist. Therefore, it is not surprising that our relations with our neighbors, Pakistan, Bangladesh and to some extent Nepal, have been rather turbulent. Many of these differences are natural because our political ideals are quite different from theirs. But, as Raja’s post indicates, we do share the Indian civilization with them. If we all remind ourselves of this simple fact, our collective futures will see much smoother sailing.