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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Indian Muslims, Pakistani Muslims

One of the people I met while researching my WSJ op-ed on Pakistan was Murtaza Razvi, the resident editor of the Dawn in Lahore. I had a long, enlightening chat with him, and one bit in particular struck me. So here it is:
You know, people in India seem to have the impression that Pakistan is like Afghanistan. They assume that we are similar to the Muslims that exist in India's ghettoes. Well, no such ghettoes exist in Pakistan.

Before the 1992 World Cup, I remember I was in Nizamuddin [in Delhi], and these Muslims told us, "Ek bechaara musalman hai jo hindustan ke liye khelta hai, baaki sab tho Hindu hai, tho team kaise jeet sakti hai*."

We were so shocked, we were like, "Where are these people coming from? What a bunch of losers!" These Indian Muslims confine themselves to their ghettoes, on the periphery of society, hung up on ideas and aspirations sold to them by their leaders.

I have heard some Muslims say in India that they don't buy milk from Hindus because "woh tho usme sooar ki doodh mila denge**." It's ridiculous. Their leaders have misled them, have made them [feel like] victims. What hope do you have with a mullah being your leader?
Lest Murtaza's point be misconstrued, let me add that the point he is making is not that there are no fundamentalists in Pakistan, but that by and large the people of Pakistan are nothing like how they are perceived by some Indians, and certainly nothing like these ghettoised Muslims in India that he speaks of. (He doesn't imply that all Muslims in India are like that, but merely refers to the ones that are.) I've only been in Lahore for a couple of weeks, but I buy his point entirely. I am so blown away by how liberal and secular and tolerant the people of this city are, contrary to my expectations, and what a happening place it is.

A longer piece follows within a few days on Lahore, so more then.

* Translation: "There's is one poor Muslim [Mohammad Azharuddin] who plays for India, the rest are all Hindus. So how can the team win?" Note that in the original quote, the term "Hindustan" was used.

** Translation: "They will mix pig's milk in it."
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