We talk about minorities in India but are strangely unaware of the existence of the same in neighbouring Pakistan. Even before Independence Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Jews and Christians existed in undivided India. There was large scale migration/exodus post partition (gadar) on either side. Despite being unofficially classified as ‘terror state’, where cricket with India is played on a war level and religious tensions abound (even among Muslims like Ahmediyas, Baha’i, Muhajirs and Shia-Sunni), there is a section among minorities that has carved out a niche for themselves and contributed to the making of Pakistani state and bringing it honours. The country too has honoured them.
“Hindu” is derived from Sindhu (Indus river considered holy) in Pakistan. The land has played an important part in the origin of Hinduism. Hindus may be small numerically (once 20%, now they are mere 1.85%) but Pakistan has fifth largest population. Sindh played an important role in Mahabharata. Legend has it that Lahore city was founded by Luv and Kasur by Kush (both sons of Ram). Cities Peshawar and Multan have Sanskrit roots. Hindus’ contribution towards the making of Pakistan can never be negated.
Bollywood actors like Prithviraj Kapoor (Samudri, Faislabad), Raj Kapoor (Peshawar), Dev Anand (Shakargarh, Gurdaspur, Punjab), Sunil Dutt (Khurd, Jhelum, Punjab), Raaj Kumar (Balochistan) were born in Pakistan. Indian politicians Manmohan Singh (Gah, Punjab), IK Gujral (Jhelum Punjab) and LK Advani (Karachi) too were born in Pakistan. Cricketer Lala Amarnath was raised in Lahore.
Recently Kareena Kapoor (great grand daughter of Prithviraj Kapoor) set a new benchmark by being the modelling face of Pakistan. She charged a cool Rs 3 crore to Firdaus Cloth Mills to launch their lawn summer collection shot in Dubai. Money makes her face west to her ancestors’ birthplace. Even Bollywood movies have paid their own tribute to Pakistan apart from the war and sports sagas. Consider Lahore (1949, Nargis, Karan Dewan), Lahore (2010) and Shoot On Sight (2008, Om Puri). Pakistanis too made Khuda Ke Liye (2007, Naseeruddin Shah) and Ramchand Pakistani (2008, Nandita Das).
The founding fathers of Pakistan had their ancestral roots in Hinduism, who were all converts from Hinduism. M A Jinnah (71, I Governor-General of Pakistan) was born to Mithibai and Jinnahbhai Poonja, who moved from Gujarat to Sindh. His grandfather was Poonja Gokuldas Meghji, a Hindu Bhatia Rajput from Paneli village, Gondal state, Kathiawar. Jinnah's ancestors were Hindu Rajput who converted to Islam.
Allama Muhammad Iqbal’s (60, national poet of Pakistan and writer of Saare Jahan Se Achchha) father Shaikh Nur Muhammad was a prosperous tailor. His grand father Sahaj Ram Sapru moved to Sialkot after conversion to Islam.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (51, PPP founder, 4th President, 9th Prime Minister) was born to Khursheed Begum née Lakhi Bai and Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto. Sir Shah, the son of Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto, was born into a Rājpūt family that had accepted Islām.
Minority Hindus have played a significant role in making a name for themselves and bringing laurels to the country historically, culturally and politically. Anop Ravi (cricketer), Bherulal Balani (politician), Rana Bhagwandas (former acting Chief Justice Of Supreme Court), Krishan Bheel (politician), Ashok Chandwani (India-born, Pakistan-bred, Canadian journalist), Anil Dalpat (first Hindu to play test cricket), Brojen Das (East Pakistan first Asian to swim across English Channel four times), Dhirendranath Datta (East Pakistan lawyer politician), Sobho Gianchandani (social scientist, writer), Khatumal Jeevan (politician), Jogendra Nath Mandal (first Minister of Law & Labour), Danish Kaneria (cricketer), Lal Kumar (cricketer), Amar Lal (Prime Minister’s advisor to minority affairs), Ramesh Lal (PPP politician), Deepak Perwani (fashion designer), Naveen Perwani (amateur snooker player), Rajesh Ramesh (cricketer), Haresh Sharma (playwright, born in Singapore to Pakistani parents), Rana Chandra Singh (politician), Rana Prasad (Soda Rajput ruler) and Surendar Valasai (first journalist in English).
Harcharan Singh is the first Sikh officer to be recruited in the Pakistan Army on 27 October 2007. Raja Tridev Roy is a former raja of the Chakma tribes Chittagong in Bangladesh and a Pakistani writer, religious leader and politician. He is a federal minister for life and lives in Islamabad and leads the Pakistani Buddhist community. Prominent Parsis, who have contributed towards Pakistan are Byram Dinshawji Awari (businessman), Minocher Bhandara (businessman), Ardeshir Cowasjee (columnist), Aban Marker Kabraji (biologist, scientist), Jamsheed Marker (diplomat), Deena M Mistri (educationist), Dorab Patel (former Justice of Supreme Court), Bapsi Sidhwa (author) and Godrej Sidhwa (religious instructor).
Pakistan's first Christian Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court was Justice A. R. Cornelius. Distinguished fighter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force is Peter O'Reilly. Cricketer Yousuf Youhana has recently converted to Islam and is called Mohammad Yousuf. In Britain, the Bishop emeritus of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali is a Pakistani Christian. Anthony Theodore Lobo (bishop), Joseph Coutts (bishop), Joshua Fazl ud Din (bishop), Jia Ali (model, actress), Martin Bashir (journalist), Cecil Chaudhry (fighter pilot), Michael Chowdry (businessman), Alvin Robert Cornelius (Chief Justice of Supreme Court), Antao D’Souza (cricketer), Gulshan Esther (author), Rachel Gill (model, actress, TV host), Mekaal Hasan (musician, record producer), Irene Perveen (singer), Esther John (nurse), Suneeta Marshall (model), Michael Masih (footballer), Wallis Mathias (cricketer), Mervyn L Middlecoat (fighter pilot), Indu Mitha (Bharatnatyam exponent), A Nayyar (singer), Julius Salik (activist) and Duncan Sharpe (cricketer) are other prominent Pakistani Christians. Karachi synagogue’ leader Abraham Reuben became a councilor on the city corporation in 1936.
Did it ever strike us that both countries could unite and be one just like before Partition. (Just a humble thought away from war and towards peace.) Remember, Germany was once divided but finally unified. Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai. Hindu Muslim Bhai Bhai. Hai Naa.