February 22, 2019
I love my country, even though I accept that I’m not doing much for it. I am not at the border, laying down my life for my nation. I’m not a teacher, educating the underprivileged. Nor am I in the social sector, actively working to tackle social issues that prevail in the state.
However, at the same time, I’ve never put myself on the other end of the spectrum. I’ve never identified with labels that imply that I am against India, or even neutral towards it. I do feel strongly for my country and I hope to see it truly flourish someday.
But now, in light of a recent tragedy, I am wondering whether my beliefs about my identity as an Indian still hold true. The terror attack in Pulwama on February 14 killed over 44 Indian soldiers, leaving the nation devastated. It was a dastardly attack in Indian administered Kashmir, with a suicide bomber detonating over 80kg of RDX by crashing a vehicle into a bus occupied by India’s CRPF personnel. The Pakistan-based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Of course, as with any issue involving India and Pakistan, the discussion is one sided on both sides. While Indian newspapers talk about the involvement of its neighbor in the Pulwama attack, Pakistani newspapers run a different story. Reports say that any allegations tying Pakistan to this attack are baseless, and that the bomber was a native of the area, forced to choose “the path of armed struggle” to “resist the Indian military machine”. In fact, most of the news articles on these websites flip the narrative, and reading them one is likely to see India as thirsty for blood and control.
I do not agree with the idea that the Pakistani Establishment is a victim who has nothing to do with this heinous act. I do, however, have differing opinions on what India’s response should be, and I wonder if I am doing my country wrong by thinking this way.
“Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos .Aenean non turpis vitae ligula tristique sagitt isras varius erat pulvinar eros pretium”
Indians have not been silent about this incident, to say the least. For the past few days, there has been significant unrest in the nation, both online and offline. The centre itself has publicly vowed for the “complete isolation of Pakistan” for its involvement in the attack, and the citizens have followed suit. Photos of Pakistani cricketers have been removed from an Indian stadium. A popular politician and television personality may be sacked from his role in a TV show for expressing what was called an “anti-national sentiment.” People are labeling Pakistan as a terrorist nation, crying for blood, and calling for every Indian to support the cause of seeing Pakistan isolated, or obliterated. All with the phrase “RT if you’re an Indian.”
The current discourse about this is passionate and rightfully enraged, but alarmingly narrow. Among the trending hashtags of “PulwamaRevenge” and “TerroristNationPakistan” has also been “ExposeDeshdrohis.” The term “deshdrohi” refers to a traitor to the country for helping national enemies. Along with exposing many individuals who have openly lauded the terrorist organization, it has also put the spotlight on many Indians who are simply voicing different opinions. Indians who condemn the idea of destroying Pakistan, or waging war on Pakistani citizens, are umbrellaed under the label of a traitor.
I must measure my words as I write this, but I do not think that every Pakistani citizen should be held accountable for the attack. I am every bit as infuriated by the incident but the fault is of the terrorists. Labeling Pakistan a terrorist nation and throwing insults at its citizens will do nothing to bring the perpetrators to justice. To me, there is a difference between the country’s establishment and its citizens, and the latter should not suffer for the former’s actions.
Does this make me anti-national? I see pain in the reactions of Indians. I see anguish, I see the sorrow of loss, but I also see misplaced anger. I see demands for actions that seem to be of a different trajectory from constructive solutions. I cannot say that I have an airtight answer to the problem of Kashmir, nor do I claim to be unbiased about the situation. But I do know that war is not the answer. A blind hatred against all Pakistanis is not the answer.
Does my incompatibility with what seems to be the majority’s views make me anti-national? Am I a traitor to my country for not wanting to see the bloodshed of innocents? No country is without innocent people caught in the crossfire – not India and not Pakistan.
I am an Indian and I love my country. I stand by India but I cannot be an advocate of war. I cannot label every Pakistani a terrorist. I cannot cry for their blood. Am I an anti-national?
The writer is a student at the University of Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer.