"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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                                A culture of hate

                                            Tariq A. Al-Maeena


It was after the lunch session of the first cricket test match between England and Pakistan in Dubai Sports City Stadium in January of this year that I noticed a large group of schoolchildren, nattily dressed in their uniforms, making way into I enclosure I was seated in.  Soon I was surrounded by nine and ten year olds, hooting and hollering whenever something substantial was performed on the playing field.


The children were of all colors and from the nationalities present, the predominant group appearing to be from the sub-continent.  Their teachers or charges made sure that they were all seated in the proper areas.  Three boys, seated to my immediate right were soon excitedly waving and cheering the English team on with shouts of ‘Go rangers go, go England go.’ 


During the drinks break, I asked them where they were from.  ‘We are from India,’ one of them replied.  ‘Why then are you rooting for England?  Isn’t Pakistan your immediate neighbor and shares many national qualities with your people,’ I pursued.


Two of them immediately chimed in, ‘Because we hate Pakistan!’  Their answers with so much conviction floored me.  Here were some nine to ten year olds and they were so sure they hated an entire nation with whom they shared borders.   And yet I wasn’t sure they understood what the reason behind their hatred was.   These weren’t words of politicians who I suspect often create discord between each other for their own personal gains by whipping up mass hysteria.  Neither were these kids’ agents of RAW or ISI, the intelligence agencies in both countries that are apparently not very fond of each other.


‘And why do you hate Pakistanis?’ I continued.  This was worth pursuing, especially when such innocent mouths spewed so much venom.


‘Because our Dads told us so,’ were their unified replies.  ‘Our fathers don’t like Pakistan or the Pakistanis, and that is why we are rooting for the opposition.’


‘Well, I don’t want to interfere with what your Dads have been telling you, but to my knowledge, Pakistanis and Indians were one people until some sixty years ago.  Both these people had been actively involved in opposing the rule of the British who had come to the sub-continent and governed it for some two hundred years.’


I continued, ‘More than a hundred and fifty years ago, the people who today make up India and Pakistan rallied against the British commanders and wanted to free themselves from their Raj masters leading to many from both sides were brutally massacred.  The added British troops dispatched more from England eventually succeeded in killing the mutiny.  The city of Delhi was left in ruins and many of the Indians who had surrendered were executed by British troops. The cry for freedom was quickly extinguished as thousands of Indians lost their lives’


‘Some fifty later, another movement began in the form of a popular resistance, one that culminated in further violence between the British and their subjects, but which eventually gave birth to two nations, India and Pakistan.’ 


‘History tells us that as colonialists, the ruling Raj was not very kind to their hosts.  They enslaved the Indians and took off with many valuable jewelry and artifacts, some of which can be seen today on the Tower of London.  Many Indians who fought the British rule were tortured, imprisoned or even killed.’


‘And so if you really want to get angry or dislike someone, it shouldn’t be the Pakistanis here, now should it?  You are both basically one people.’  My simple logic seemed to have found a niche in their young thinking process as soon all three boys were wildly cheering for Pakistan with complete abandon. 


On the way home, I wondered the perilous effect of this hatred mongering between two neighbors, and nuclear-powered ones at that. Is that what parents on both sides of the border doing; sowing the culture of hatred in young fertile minds?   Seeds of discord that could last a lifetime, the outcome of which could be very ominous for both peoples.


The writer is a Saudi socio/political commentator.  He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
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