Today, I wish Pakistan and India could be more like Canada

Dear Pakistan and India,

Today was a beautiful day in Canada. The sun was shining bright, and it was a warm day in the cold month of November. The temperature in my city was 20 degrees centigrade. Warmer still were the temperatures of hearts in Ottawa where our new handsome Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, whom you loved when he relished biryani in a mosque or performed bhangra with the desi community, was taking the oath of office along with 30 other ministers. Half of these ministers are women.

A 12-year-old boy from the indigenous aboriginal community led Trudeau to the ceremonial hall. The ceremony began by paying tribute to the Algonquin community on whose territory they were standing. Two indigenous ministers were sworn in. Acknowledging the centuries old injustices to the indigenous people, one of them was named minister of justice.

Today was the first time in Canada that a Muslim minister was sworn in, and that too a woman, who came here as a refugee with her widowed mother and sisters after fleeing war-torn Afghanistan.

There are three South Asians taken in as ministers. One of them holds the coveted position of minister of defence. Another was a bus driver before he came into politics. Two individuals with disabilities, one with impaired vision and another on wheel chair also became ministers. Yet another one of the minister’s parents worked as immigrant factory workers all their lives. A doctor became the health minister, and a university scientist became the minister of science. A new portfolio of immigration, citizenship and refugees was created.

An incredible step has been taken towards celebrating diversity today. The world has been watching Justin Trudeau with awe.

And yes, our premier (chief minister) of Ontario is a gay woman who is a grandmother and says family comes first.

But why am I writing this all down for you?

I was 24-years-old when, as an Indian, I married a Pakistani, and embraced my Pakistani-Indian status. I know some people would frown and wonder how that could work, but I have loved every minute of my marriage. It has been 25 years since then. But that’s another conversation.

In contrast to that, I have been a Canadian for only five years, yet I feel safer here than back home.

Sitting here, witnessing diversity unfold its virtues in Canada, my heart weeps for the havoc that has been created by ‘otherising’ and demonising diversity in India and Pakistan.

From the persecution of Ahmadis, to the killings of Shia youth, to burning Christians, to forced conversions of Hindus, to the recurrent Hindu-Muslim communal riots, to the lynching of Muslims for eating beef, to the burning of low caste children, with every new tragedy a little of Pakistani-Indian dies within me.

The unending arguments of how different Indians and Pakistanis are, despite sharing the same history, same geography, same ethnicity and even the same genetic pool, looks more ridiculous when you watch different skin colours and different ethnicities stand together in peace at the swearing in ceremony in Ottawa.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/30132/today-i-wish-pakistan-and-india-could-be-more-like-canada/

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