Friday, August 6, 2010

I am a kaafir...

We have a Pakistani Hindu family living in our neighbourhood. The first time I heard about them was when they refused to let out their servant quarter to someone I had known. “Woh log bhi aapke India sai hain,” I was told.

It was unusual for us not to know an Indian family living on the same street as us. Even then I checked with the small Indian community in Islamabad, but nobody seemed to have a clue.

Few weeks later, I learnt that the “Indian” family owned a handicraft shop in an upscale Isloo market. Everything fell into place. Our neighbours were Hindus from Sindh who owned one of the biggest handicraft shops in the federal capital and that the locals referred to them as “Indians”.

Once I was giving my address to a shopkeeper, who knew I was Indian. 
He heard me out and said, “Ek aur Indian ka ghar bhi toh hai wahan…” I told the shopkeeper that he got the address right but the family he was referring to was not “Indian”.  “Par woh Hindu hain na…,” he tailed.

I was reminded of the shopkeeper’s remark when a young Hindu man’s 
coffin was marked “kaafir” (infidel) in black and then highlighted with red.

Prem Chand was among the 152 people killed when an airliner crashed into the majestic Margalla Hills last week. Prem Chand, 25, was a bright spark and was a member of the Youth Parliament. He was flying 
along with five other parliamentarians to Islamabad to attend a session.

I was struck when Pakistanis expressed disgust and said the way Prem Chand’s 
coffin was treated was a “national disgrace” and some even apologized to the minority Hindu community. Prem Chand’s friends were quick to remove the marking before his relatives saw the coffin and wrote “We love you – from the Youth Parliament” over the word "kaafir".

I was touched to see Pakistanis floating a page in Prem Chand's memory and a 
member suggesting that a “kaafir day” be celebrated in Pakistan to stop “such acts of religious bigotry”.

Prem Chand described himself as a social worker. His last status update 
on Facebook made me shiver: “Comments can make a person and comments can break a person. So be careful and ethical while giving comments for someone.”


  1. There is such a lack of religious diversity in Pakistan that for most, outside of Sindh, Hindus are people they see in Indian movies.

    I really hope that the person who wrote kaafir on Prem Chand's coffin had a innocent motive ,e.g., to make sure people know not to do the naamaz e janaazah for him. If the intention was more sinister, i really wish badly on whoever was responsible.

  2. I've heard that some Pakistanis even consider Indian Muslims kaffirs. The logic behind that is that muslims in India attend Hindu weddings and eat prasad, etc.

  3. Thats really sad...his last comment on twitter really wakes one up!

  4. good blog !! i am not qualified to comment on pak.... but saw same response on twitter for prem chand quite a kid !!

  5. its sad...the poor guy was not made to forget what he is considered even after his death. Mr. Chand didn't receive the dignity and respect he deserved even after his death. Thankfully his friends had the decency to protest and remove that remark from his coffin...but when will the pakistani state learn to respect its minorities?????

  6. Mackers, lol @ Hindus are people they see in Indian movies.

    Ajay, haven't heard that one yet.

    A New Beginning, the comment was on FB. As always, thanks for reading. :)

    Ashu, of course, you are qualified to comment on Pak! :) and thanks.

    Dudenator, thanks for the feedback :)

  7. Prem Chand's last comment has got a space on my FB wall.

    Do you had any interaction with pakistani Hindu? How do they tackle such bigotry??

  8. I am a Pakistani Muslim and am so sorry and ashamed on such act. He was also someone's family and a loved one who died in an air-crash. Religion or Hinduism has nothing to do with it.

    Am grateful to those Pakistanis who helped in retaining his actual identity which is a Pakistani and not a Kaafir.
    I have come across many Indian Hindus, who think that we degrade Hindus as minority and I proudly tell them that No, hindus are well treated minority and own good amount of business in Pakistan. Am ashamed on myself for such a cruel incident with this Hindu youth.

    Islam doesn't teach this at all. It is purely a person's own act for which a nation has to pay.

  9. @Ajayinbombay: you have heard wrong. Pakistanis don't consider Indian Muslims as Kaafirs etc. This is just a myth. In fact, Pakistanis pity them that they might not be well treated in India, which I again beleive is a stero typical image.

    @Dudenator: The act is on behalf of one person and not nation so you better not teach Pakistan minority repect. I am sure every country including India has its problems with minorities or castes.

    @Mackers: you really have a different perspective to look at the incident. Impressive and agreeable. One never knows in what context, was it written. But if it had bad intentions, he will be punished anyways.

  10. @Kulsoom...No one is here to teach anyone anything. What happened is evident to one and all. So no point in you getting cheesed of with individual comments.

  11. @Dudenator: its obviously evident but doesn't represent. That's my point that one cannot blame the whole state for an individual act. After all the act was rectified by some Pakistanis only.

  12. It has to do with the brainwash that happens is early age. Check out their text book. You need to see it to believe it.


  13. Lot of muslims are drunk on islamism and hate secularism and do not want to share and give courtesy even for dead people.

    It is a common courtesy, in many cultures to respect dead people and not to say bad things about dead people.
    Somehow for islamic thugs, they miss this basic human respect (if the dead man is especially Hindu,...)..

  14. It is weird that it should matter to a Hindu or the Hindu community that a member of theirs was referred to as a 'Kafir'. And as Mackers pointed out, it could be as simple as a person wanting to let others know that this coffin does not belong to a Muslim.

    The person who wrote that could have lacked enough knowledge or education that he does not necessarily have to write 'Kafir' but can even write 'Hindu', then again he may be unsure if he was a 'Hindu' or 'Jain' or for that matter any other minority.

    For me, it does not matter what a Hindu would consider me, because he would think within the bounds and parameters of his religion, which does not apply to me. So being referred to as an 'Achhooth' would be meaningless.

    I think it has become a norm to just ride the blame someone horse among Pakistan haters or Islamophobes.

  15. The apologia for Taliban style thinking as done by anon above is striking. Of course it matters what labels we give, as it reflects our thinking. A Hindu labeling anyone as achooth in todays age would inspire derision from many of his peers, but it seems a Pakistani calling a hindu kaafir, is considered ok. And anyone pointing out this basic fact is then abused as an Islamophobe or hater

  16. Interestingly, pointing out any other side of an argument to 'the Islamophobes' makes a person open to the 'Taliban apologist' label.

    Instead of understanding the point, Aks stuck to the mentality many so-called or self assumed liberals or secular suffer from, does not want to back out and think rationally.

    I myself am an atheist Aks. The only thing I pointed out was, there are many sides to a story. And it is very much probable that the person who wrote 'Kafir' on the coffin only wanted to differentiate. It is not a very difficult thing to understand. But perhaps it is for you. Because you want to fit everything that happens into this preconceived notion you have developed about Pakistan or Pakistanis.

    PS... Thought I'd do away with the anonymous ID

  17. I have read your entire blog in a single session. It is quite interesting to know about way of life in Pakistan and especially for Indians as Pakistan has love and hate relationship with India (they can't live without Bollywood and can't forget Kashmir). I like the way you write your experience in day to day life in Pakistan. I am eagerly waiting for your next blog (don't wont to miss more of it as you already have started to pack up for India).


  18. Thanks all for reading, esp all the anons :)

    AZ, glad you are no longer anonymous. Do you blog?

    Dushyant, thanks for reading, liking! Did you say bags? Oh we never really unpacked :)

  19. I am sorry Prem Chand. You were as much Pakistani as anybody else in Pakistan. I am so sorry that bunch of idiots did that. I apologize.


  20. What else can we expect from Islamofacist thugs living in a country that represents the Nazi German Empire.
    I get really peeved when I see that while Muslims in India demand extra special treatment for themselves, they will always deny it to others Population transfer in 1947 was a must.
    Who wants to live with such mentally degraded, 7th century mentality vermin anyway.

  21. ah well, wish there was only a religion called "HUMANITY" but then ............