The chowk that won’t be named

Many Indian commentators pronounce that India and Pakistan are similar. When they see no difference between some Indians and Pakistanis, they mistakenly presume India and Pakistan to be the same. But as MJ Akbar says, “India and Pakistan are not separated by a mere boundary. They are defined by radically opposed ideas. India believes in a secular state where all faiths are equal; Pakistan in the notion that a state can be founded on the basis of religion.”

In fact, Indians and Pakistanis are also not similar. A Bengali has more in common with a Bangladeshi, a Naga with his fellow tribesmen in Myanmar, an Arunachal Buddhist with Tibetans or a Tamil with Sri Lankans than with a Pakistani. For that matter, there is little common between an Indian Punjabi and a Pashtun from Khyber-Pakhtunwa in Pakistan. It is not about denying our common heritage but about acknowledging our present realities.