A Kaleidoscopic Indo-Pak view
Author Mehr <g data-gr-id="116">Tarar’s</g> book Leaves from Lahore published by <g data-gr-id="117">Har Anand</g> Publications is scheduled to be released in November in Lahore. The 294-page book offers a compilation of her writing on varied Indo-Pak issues which have occupied prime importance in the mind of every citizen on both sides of the border. Elucidating about the book’s core <g data-gr-id="119">conceptualisation</g>, <g data-gr-id="118">Tarar</g> told Millennium Post: “This book is actually a compilation of my printed articles. I met Narender Kumar (publisher, <g data-gr-id="120">Har Anand</g> Publications) in Lahore and he asked me to put my printed articles together. The new addition is the introduction. These are articles which have been printed in Pakistan and in India for different publications that I write for. It offers an insight into how I look at certain issues pertinent to Pakistan as well as India which include terrorism in Pakistan, political instability, persecution of non-Muslims, Pakistan-India peace initiative and others”.
Keeping the precarious Indo-Pak relation in mind, and her experiences during her travels to India, what has been her perception about the two countries? “I have been to India twice and I have included articles about that in the book in the chapter On India. I received a warm welcome from people in India, it wasn’t a surprise as everyone who has travelled to India from Pakistan has told me the same thing. This chapter encapsulates my view on India-Pakistan dynamics. I do feel there is a huge gap between reality and perception, as far as India and Pakistan are concerned, especially when we talk about the people on both sides,” explained <g data-gr-id="110">Tarar</g>.
In the book, the feeling of mutual harmony between residents of both country who want peace across the border is highlighted. The issues related to terror are very significant and need to be immediately addressed but essentially both the average Indian and Pakistani do not necessarily harbour hate for one another.
On how the “noise” generated by media when any incident occurs between the two nations , she said: “As soon as something happens, it is presumed that Pakistan is the perpetrator there is so much noise in India media, that Indians get affected immediately.” She recalled during her visits to India on how affectionately she was treated in Indians, who also longed to visit Pakistan as well. “In my limited capacity I have tried to convey the message that like many Pakistanis we do like India and we have nothing against you all (Indians). The only problem is that there is so much noise generated in media that the voice of reason just drowns.”
<g data-gr-id="115">Tarar’s</g> name had become synonymous with the controversy struck Twitter a few days before the mysterious death of Sunanda Pushkar, wife of former Union Minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, in January last year. “It is unfortunate that this is how I am known to people. As far as my personal life is concerned, everything has changed after that. Yes, people got to know me because of that incident, but after that too I kept writing. It is not that I am invited to television shows to speak only on that subject.
Other than maybe once a year, for example, when the investigations began in January, I was called (on a show) to explain my point of view. I have always been here (Pakistan) and that has been happening in India. Because of that curiosity people want to know who am I, and when they read my book, they will be pleasantly surprised,” she said. When asked if the controversy worked in her favour <g data-gr-id="121">Tarar</g> said: “Yes, it did. But I made sure at that I was quiet on it. I never spoke or wrote about it. Someone even asked me to write a book on it, which I refused.” Asked if the flak she faced was painful, she said: “It still is. Right now, it has become infrequent. A woman (Sunanda Pushkar) starts tweeting to me and then calls me an ISI agent, talks about my character, accuses me of being a hacker and other things.”
“She kept saying all these things and after two days she dies, it was the most surreal, bizarre and unfortunate thing that could have ever happened. Incidentally, people started connecting the two things. In fact, the problems between a husband and a wife are bigger. I don’t think that could cause any wife such heartache that she would do something to herself,” said the author.
<g data-gr-id="114">Tarar</g> added: “I say it is the most surreal thing because I have never met her and don’t know who she was. Even now, when they are talked about, my name is mentioned. Because of the curiosity the incident generated, people started reading my work and realised what my writing is all about.”
EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK
Politics has always held a peculiar fascination for me. The business of running the country to the best, and in case of Pakistani politicians, to the worst of their abilities. Those few who approach the masses and the classes to ask them for their vote, ostensibly to seek entrance into assemblies where the rhetoric is shrill, the enactment of laws scant, and the attacks on the opposition and hominem and constant.
Nothing that happens in my country is insignificant to me. Nothing that happens to my country is insignificant to me. And nothing that happens because my country is insignificant to me. What Pakistan is and what Pakistan was, what Pakistan will be and what Pakistan can be... it all matters to me. And ergo I write. I write about Pakistan because it’s my home, my homeland, all I am, and all I have.
<g data-gr-id="204">Pakistan</g><g data-gr-id="204"> ,</g> with an approximately 96 <g data-gr-id="198">per cent</g> Muslim population, has become a victim of its own <g data-gr-id="197">mechanisations</g> to create schisms for the purposes of hegemony. While the number of non-Muslims has dwindled to an alarmingly small number, the persecution of its “minorities” – the word I refuse to use for my fellow Pakistanis – is in perpetuation on the basis of the faith they practise. Ignoring the real tenets of Islam that teaches <g data-gr-id="201">importance</g> of co-existence of religious diversity, religious teachings are distorted to unleash injustice on many.
Speak up. I’ve practised that my life, and that’s what I do through my capacity as a columnist. Despite having seen life very closely, and experienced much that was unsavoury and heartbreaking, there is no residual negativity, cynicism and rancour within me. I hold no grudges, I harbour no hatred for anyone. There are those I distanced myself from, and some I wouldn’t wish to see even in a nightmare, but there is no one I hate. My writing exists because I need to write. There is no agenda, there is nothing to gain.