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Posts Tagged ‘common man’s perpective’

Shagun, a friend from India who visited Pakistan for a youth conference in 2006. She wrote this some time ago. I have had some differences with her over how things are, understandably, but the “mango-man” of both Pakistan and India yearn for peace. Two countries where millions die of poverty, spend billions of dollars on expanding their military capabilties. Now, as the scenario has changed and both countries are nuclear armed, one wonders, what more military advancement at the cost of education, health and basic necessities of life can justify piling up arsenal and missiles. Every missile that is made, every tank that is engineered steals from a poor woe-struck Pakistani/Indian who cannot get two times of food, clean water and basic health facilities. It is easy for a elite group of youngsters sitting in their drawing rooms, in Islamabad and Delhi to talk about F-16s and Sukhoi’s, ask from a poor, incidentally, nearly 50 percent of our population is below the poverty line. I have seen some fanatics talk about how war is the only solution between the two arch rivals, and I ask them, a war between two nuclear armed rivals would mean nearly 1/5th of humanity ceases to exist, over 1 Billion human beings ( including Approx. 200 million Muslims from here and 200 million from India). Yes, the likes of Shiv Sena and Taliban-Extemists, who know no other way would want a bloodshed of humanity, we the “mango people” have to give basic human rights to our countrymen first.

 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BORDER – By Shagun Rana

 

It was 05/08/2006, usual day of me working late night in institute to finish assignments – nothing different. It was morning in sub continent, so came online to say hello to friends. My friend Asma was online from her office in Islamabad. We were talking about usual stuff and in bloom she asked me “Shagun, do u want to really come and see Pakistan?” I said “Yes, I do want to”.

She sent me a link. I was a bit confused with it but after reading what’s on the website, I felt that I should try. So that was turning point and that usual day became my best day. I filled in the form and within one hour, I got reply from a guy named Umair Ashraf that I have been registered for the conference. Now came the visa, I applied my visa from Vancouver. I was not getting any positive reply of any sort. I was leaving Canada and I had no clue about my visa, I was sad but I felt what wrong we common people did that we are not allowed to meet our own friends? Cannot we have borders like USA and Canada? Why visa is so tough for us? Why so much time is taken? Why so much torture…..?

With a disappointment I came back to my country. I was happy that I was back in my country but at the same time, one thing bugged me that neither my application was accepted nor rejected so I wanted to know the answer for this. So, at the last I was standing in front of Pakistani embassy in New Delhi with all my details along with my mom. I wanted to know if I am rejected and if yes. then why?

With the determination to know why my file was stuck in Canada, I applied again in India. Within 24 hours, conference would start in Islamabad and I knew that. I got visa from Pakistani high commission in New Delhi and for that I could only say thanks to my mom who was there with me and trying to boost me up and understood me that I wanted to know the reason of rejection of my visa. Second thanks for the official who gave me visa without hassle. I came out with visa. I was never as happy as I was that day. Within 24 hours I was at international airport, the same airport where I was four days back but this time not for western world but for a country which was said to be same as my, which had same history as we had.

I landed in Lahore and my friends were waiting outside the airport for me. I was scared for sure because I was alone in Pakistan. I could not believe I was in Pakistan. The country I heard so much of. I could not say that it was like Delhi because it was too small as compared to Delhi but at the same time, it made me feel I was in India. Whenever I saw billboards I used to feel no I am in Pakistan. I thought every girl would be in burqa or cover their head but to my shock nothing was like that. At 1 am, I started my journey for Islamabad but I felt Lahore never sleeps. I never saw Delhi ISBT to have so many people there at 1 am. Biggest shock came when I saw a bus hostess in luxury bus at 1:30 am. I never imagined that an Islamic country would allow that.

Next five days were in conference. I loved being there. I was meeting lot of people and trying to find answer to my questions. Shireen Naqvi, Saima Khan and Kamran Rizvi – the best people and halts off to them for their work.

Every new person enquired whether I am an Indian girl. It was awesome. I enjoyed every movement there and at the same time, learnt so much. It made me more proud to be Indian every moment and by end of fifth day, I made up my mind to observe a difference between the two countries. I came back to Lahore. Every day I was shopping or seeing places. My only interest was to see difference. Whenever I was on road I was trying to compare what difference is between India and Pakistan but I could not find.

I am shopping at 1 in night which was a shock to me. I did miss my India also because when I wanted to wear cargo or salwar kamez without duppata I felt odd one out. Best Rabree (a sweet dish made of milk) I ever had, was in Lahore. My eyes were glued to chapals in JJ store (Junaid Jamshed’s) and Lawn fabric. Every time when I told that I was Indian, I was given big welcome. I remember I was in a beauty parlor for Mehndi. Every single girl there came to me asked me how’s India. Is it like movie show? Do you watch serials on Star TV, dresses in India are so nice, and don’t you girls have more freedom there?

On streets you could hear Hindi songs and in car the most I heard was YA ALI from gangster movie. So where was the difference?

There was no difference. The difference came because we were told like that. We were shown a picture which was totally different. Back home, my family was scared that girl is alone in Pakistan. The asked me to go any where but not Pakistan, but I wanted to see the part which was once in India how can it be so different from another?

This year I am again applying for visa for Pakistan. Now I am in management team of the conference I attended last year. I don’t want to stop these steps which I have taken. I do hear a lot many times from people that I take too much interest in Pakistan and I reply “come with me and watch from your own eyes, we are one”. Both countries need peace and the OTHER SIDE BORDER NEEDS RESPECT AS MUCH AS WE NEED FROM THEM. My last message is that if you are true then come out and make some difference

– Shagun Rana

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The World Bank estimates that 456 million Indians (42% of the total Indian population) now live under the global poverty line of $1.25 per day (PPP).

As per the 2001 census, 35.5% of Indian households availed of banking services, 35.1% owned a radio or transistor, 31.6% a television, 9.1% a phone, 43.7% a bicycle, 11.7% a scooter, motorcycle or a moped, and 2.5% a car, jeep or van; 34.5% of the households had none of these assets.  According to Department of Telecommunications of India the phone density has reached 33.23% by Dec 2008 and has an annual growth of 40%

Indian Defence Budget Touched US$ 40 Billion In 2009

Poverty in Pakistan is a growing concern. Although the middle-class has grown in Pakistan to 35 million,nearly one-quarter of the population is classified poor as of October 2006. The declining trend in poverty as seen in the country during the 1970s and 1980s was reversed in the 1990s by poor federal policies and rampant corruption. This phenomenon has been referred to as the poverty bomb.The government of Pakistan with help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has prepared an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper  that suggests guidelines to reduce poverty in the country.

According to the Human Development Index (HDI), 60.3% of Pakistan’s population lives on under $2 a day, compared to 75.6% in nearby India and 81.3% in nearby Bangladesh, and some 22.6% live under $1 a day, compared to 41.6% in India and 49.6% in Bangladesh.

Pakistan’s Defense spending is set to rise to 342.9 billion rupees ($4.2 billion) for the 2009/10 fiscal year beginning on July 1, compared with 296.07 billion rupees allocated in 2008/09.

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