Pak chorus: We're victims too
by Anubha Sawhney | September 23, 2006
Manmohan and Musharraf smoked the proverbial peace pipe in Havana only days before reports of Pakistan's hand in the Mumbai blasts started getting splashed in the news.
While our Man has been getting mixed reactions from Indians to his comment on Pakistan being a 'victim of terror', those across the border are quite elated.
"After all," says 24-year-old Khizra Munir, popular Pakistani blogger and creative executive in an ad agency in Karachi, "there is just so much terrorism Pakistan can contribute to...we can't be everywhere at the same time."
Munir, and many other Pakistani youngsters, are enraged that their country is the world's favourite whipping boy. "Whenever something goes wrong in the world, all fingers are pointed at Pakistan.
If a bomb explodes in India, we in Pakistan brace ourselves for the lashing of the Indian media, because allegedly 'Pakistan did it'. I understand that Pakistan is not free from all blame, but in the words of former PM Nawaz Sharif: 'We have bomb explosions too.
Whom should we blame?' Pakistan is not completely blame-free...but please, the world makes us sound like we're planning the next holocaust," says Munir.
The feeling that their homeland is being unfairly blamed is echoed throughout Pakistan's Gen Next.
As Sami Shah, a 28-year-old stand-up comedian, points out: "Keeping in mind that Karachi alone has seen more terrorist attacks in the last two years than India, America and the entire EU combined, of course we're a victim of terror attacks.
Admittedly, the death toll as a result of these attacks is probably highest in India, but in terms of number of attacks, Pakistan has suffered the most. A majority of these barely get noticed by the international news. We've got to the point where we have incorporated fear and trauma into our everyday lives."
Adds Aamer Saeed, chief executive, All Rounder Sports Company,"Given the history of India and Pakistan, whenever there's a bomb blast in either country, the other is blamed. The ground reality, of course, only ISI and RAW know.
Perceptions are nurtured and we need to fight them. I think President Musharraf's call for a joint investigation into terror attacks is essential to remove mistrust from the minds of people on both sides of the border."
Do Pakistanis feel India gets off easy in the light of the terror situation around the world? "In the eyes of the world, India is peace-loving and secular.
But is it really? I admit Pakistan has internal issues and the world is having a field day knowing about them because we are supposedly the breeding ground for all things 'terrorist'.
The world does not find out about India's issues. It is busy dancing to Indian music and raving about Aishwarya Rai and Shah Rukh Khan. So am I for that matter!" exclaims Munir.
Adds Saeed, "India is very good at managing its image, especially overseas. Unfortunately, Pakistan gets a lot of bad press. I believe this problem is worsening because people across borders are not allowed to meet.
I know just how tough it is to get a visa to India and I'm sure it's the same in your country. I have a lot of Indian friends but till five years ago I had never met an Indian in India."
Says Saba Imtiaz, a 21-year-old business administration student who also doubles up as a radio jockey, "India has been comparatively unscathed by the terror situation prevailing in the world.
However, the Mumbai blasts left a deep impact in the hearts of Pakistanis considering we share roots and culture, we could not help but feel a sense of remorse and sympathy."
What about the recent claims of a Pakistani hand in the Mumbai blasts? "The average Pakistani does not know for sure whether or not terrorist attacks in India are sanctioned by our government, the way Indian authorities claim.
While no one can deny the Pakistani government sponsored and supported large elements of Al-Qaida in the past, claiming that level of encouragement still exists seems tenuous.
Therefore, India backing out of peace talks and shelving the Kashmir issue (which IS an issue, no matter what head-in-sand approach the Indian government takes) whenever a terrorist attack takes place on Indian soil frustrates us," says Sami.
In plainspeak, does the average Pakistani hate and fear Indians? "I hold no bitterness against India. Love it, in fact, and had one of the best trips there. And I'm majorly looking forward to better relations between our countries," says Munir.
Adds Saeed: "Like they've knocked down the Berlin Wall, I believe Indo-Pak perceptions about each other also need to be knocked down. I've met so many Indians. They are no different from me."