Us and them

Tahir Mehdi recently wrote an article titled- ‘North India and South Pakistan‘ in Dawn, Jinnah’s newspaper. The article compares the opportunities Indian Muslims enjoy, which Pakistani Hindus lack. This article should be an eye-opener especially to the Muslim separatists in India. It is evident that Pakistani citizens are dreaming of the dynamics of elections and the power of democracy.

Mehdi brilliantly notes how every fifth inhabitant of the present-day UP is a Muslim. If we consider the recent elections in UP, Muslim candidates were serious contenders. 68 of them won, and another 64 stood second in the contests. There were no hard feelings and the elections were considered fair. Compare this with the non-Muslims in Sindh, who comprise about 9 percent of the total population there. There was only one Hindu candidate in the national assembly elections of 2008. He lost. Mehdi notes the beauty of democratic dynamics by explaining how UP is the state where the capital of Urdu culture, Lucknow, is located, and so is the epicentre of Hindutva politics- Ayodhya. UP is also the home town of the secular Congress, Rae Bareli, where minority Muslim voters swing political fortunes there and tipping balances of political power.

Mehdi has done this analysis in a refreshing way, reminding us that behind the terrorist minority that has hijacked Pakistan, there is a sober majority that dreams of progress and the warmth of the human spirit. Well, no wonder Mehdi’s article has raised eyebrows in Pakistan. But reading his article did make me feel proud of the fact that we Indians have hopes left, since the grounds of our democracy once laid, were strong. The believers of democracy in our neighbouring countries look up to us. Our political system may have its own problems, and we do have a long distance to cover before we can call ourselves a fair and a good country, but we, Muslims included, have a free and fair system- better than most other countries of the subcontinent.

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