"Dear Friend In Pakistan": A Letter From An Indian Teenager
Dear friend in Pakistan,
For all the blood-thirsty fanatics, mad war mongers, water avengers and self-appointed representatives who have threatened to bomb you, break you, starve you, and end you - I am sorry, that isn’t me. This may not be the best time to talk, but while both our leaders lock horns, I have something urgent to tell you.
You are not my enemy. I have no dark corner for you.
We wept for our brave martyrs of Uri, victims of a coward inhuman act of terror. We were ‘told’ that the sin was micro-managed by your army and intelligence agency. I don’t know how far this holds true, but I am not ready to get drilled with the deposition that it must always be you.
Whoever be the perpetrator, what does it have to do with you -- an ordinary Pakistani citizen? What makes you an exporter of terror or a co-conspirator? Why should you be confused with the Pakistani Military or the ISI? And especially when it is not clear who the keys are with -- to finance, build and operationalize any act. Your government or military is not Pakistan. Pakistan is you, the vibrant, loving mass of humanity.
I have not even met you, yet the forces around us are keen on convincing both of us of the mutual hate and hostility we must have towards each other. I must confess how ashamed I feel when I hear my leaders talking of using water as a ‘legitimate weapon of war.’ My head hangs low on the discussion of a nuclear attack on your cities.
Let’s make it clear who we are fighting against, who the enemy is.
Revoking the Indus Water Sharing Treaty doesn’t punish the sinners, even if they came from your land. It would be not these akaas who will die of thirst. It is not your corporate general or prime minister who will be in the list of deceased. Those to lose their lives, their crops, their family, their land are bound to be the poorest, the most ordinary.
I am more terrorized when I hear our ‘strategists’ talk about exploring the option of a nuclear war. I do not know if they have even a slightest idea of the venom they are purging out. Do they even know what it means to be killed by nuclear war? Don’t they know nuclear bombs aren’t dropped on ‘terrorist camps or academies’... they are dropped on people, on our beautiful cities. While one city gets silenced into rubbles within minutes, the radiations leave the crippled neighbour craving for death for its lifetime. If Delhi is the target, Karachi will not be immune.
In 1999, the last time our militaries went to war at Kargil, the estimated cost was between Rs 5000-10,000 crore a week. Imagine the war-bills in 2016! All this when half of our people are naked, hungry and left on the roads to rot? We must get our priorities right, my neighbour.
Dear friend, let us distinguish ourselves from our national powerhouses. We are independent, rational and compassionate human beings, irrespective of how our leaders act. Each one of us is a sovereign republic; our beliefs, likes and friendships should not be coloured by national propogandas.
It is now the time to ask questions, to refuse becoming participants and instruments of malicious actions -- even if that means going against our national governments. We must restore the power to ourselves -- to think, to form our opinions and to decide for ourselves.
Don’t tell me we aren’t strong enough. We won our nations from the mightiest empire of twentieth century. We did not get slaughtered to keep fighting with each other instead of fighting a foreigner. And for how long? Our stupid rivalry has lasted for more time than the poor average life expectancies in our countries.
Let us hug each other. Let us kill with our love those who want to divide us. Let us end this for once, and to fail those who want us to fail.
Hope you will agree,
Your friend from India
(Akshat Tyagi is a fifteen year old entrepreneur and author from Delhi. His book "Naked Emperor Of Education: A product review of the education system" is the first Indian student voice against the current regime of compulsory schooling. Besides working on community projects with several social and alternative organizations, Akshat is working to build world's first e-university).