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Open letter to Shahrukh Khan

By: Bandyopadhyay Arindam


Your name is a household phenomenon in Indian and even beyond her borders. Your fame has put you
in the Newsweek "most powerful people list" recently. However, as you may recall from your recent
experience in New Jersey Airport, real life is a little different - it does not always follow the path
predicted by a scriptwriter or director.

Of late, we have been reading about your opinions and statements on matters beyond the celluloid
world. Nothing is wrong in it. You live in a free, democratic country and are entirely entitled to your
opinion. But as a common man, also from the same soil, I think I have the right too to raise a few
points that may not conform to your views of the real world.

I hope you will read it out.

When recently, the Pakistani players were not selected for the IPL, it was almost predictable that
NDTV, the award-winning, mouthpiece of our Indian liberal media select you for your views and you
certified that "It (Pakistan) is a great neighbour to have. We (India and Pakistan) are great neighbours.
They are good neighbours."

I have a few words to say about those statements.

One may recall your effort to clarify the Pakistani team captain, Shoaib Malik's apology to the
Muslims, living all over the world, for failing to win the final T20 match against India, likely much to
the embarrassment of a lot of Indian Muslims, as expressed by Shamin Bano, mother of the man of the
match, Irfan Pathan. What was more embarrassing was your effort to try to defend Shoaib in a
subsequent interview, "I don"t think he meant to segregate Muslims and Christians and Hindus and say
this was a match between Islam and Hinduism. I don"t think that..."

I doubt whether Shoaib talked to you personally about his thought process at that time. You did not
really have to respond for somebody else but perhaps you could not resist the temptation to show your
brotherhood and solidarity.

This reminds us again of Dr Ambedkar's observation that, "The brotherhood of Islam is not the
universal brotherhood of man. It is brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only."

Partition of India was what Pakistan wanted and got. It was painful to millions but many more millions
in present India have been spared. Since then Pakistan has offered us only hatred. It has imposed on us
three major wars, the Kargil insurgency, the Kashmir conflict, the series of serial blasts, the routine
violation of border ceasefires, attacks on the Parliament House and the recent Mumbai 26/11 attack.
Did you have these in mind when you talked about them being good neighbours?

In another interview you had tried to explain the concept of Islamic Jihad. "I think one needs to
understand the meaning of jihad .. Ive understood the essence that jihad is not about killing other
people; jihad is about killing the badness in you."

May be you understand jihad better and deeper than the superficial meaning of what we, the rest of the
mortal mankind, overburdened and terrorized by the inter-religious, intra-religious and sectarian
violence that is plaguing the world in the name of Islam today, do. For we, the less educated, cannot
really make a difference between Jihad and Qatl, between Jihad by heart / soul, Jihad by pen and Jihad
by sword or between lesser and greater jihad.

We wonder, whatever its meaning may be, does it minimize the significance of the mindless killings
that we see today in the name of Islam, across borders, all over the world? Does it change the nature of
the killers whether you call them holy warriors, mujahidins, fedayeens or plane suicide bombers?

We agree with you that terrorism has no religion. But hopefully you will also agree with the people
who perceive that most terrorist in the world today happen to believe in the scriptures of Islam. They
actually believe that they themselves are the true Islamists.

The so called "moderate" Islamist, perhaps does not want to contradict them or may be does not dare to
speak out against them. You have probably not forgotten the FIR against you for listing Prophet
Mohammed as one of the most unimpressive personalities in history, the threats from which you had to
skillfully wriggle out. Others who are not so fortunate, famous or flexible are suffering lifetime, as
Tasleema Nasreen or Salman Rushdie would testify. For blasphemy in Islam is punishable with death,
even for a believer.

Do I have to spell out the fate if it is a non-believer?

It is due to the inherent intolerance and exclusivity of Islam itself despite your effort to convince us that
there is an Islam from Allah and very unfortunately, there is an Islam from the Mullahs.

Here is an historical insight from writer Irfan Hussain, "The Muslim heroes who figure larger than life
in our history books committed some dreadful crimes..all have blood-stained hands that the passage of
years has not cleansed. Indeed, the presence of Muslim historians on their various campaigns has
ensured that the memory of their deeds will live long after they were buried...Seen through Hindu eyes,
the Muslim invasion of their homeland was an unmitigated disaster."

So why should the "non-believers" care to accept them? Why should the majority of Indians like to
welcome back such disasters again? Since partition, India has come a long way in progress and
development to her current status and is projected as an economic superpower in coming decades while
Pakistan is perceived as a failed state on the verge of disintegration.

What does India have to gain by offering neighbourly friendship to such a hostile and failed state?
India has never been an invader and is not in conflict of any other Muslim country. None of the wars
and conflicts with Pakistan was instigated by India. In the current geopolitical situation, one can argue
for the Muslim worlds grudge and anger against Israel or the west and USA but one fail to fathom why
India should also be at the receiving end and why Indians should be the second largest group of people
to die from terrorists attacks. Indian majorities do not have anything to do with the Danish cartoon or
the death of Saddam Hussain; so why should they suffer from Islamic havoc on those occasions.

In almost all occasions of terrorism, questions are raised about possible role of Pakistan, its terror bases
and its terrorist organizations, as either directly or indirectly involved. Be it state sponsored (as recently
admitted by President Zardari) or by non-state actors, Pakistan or Pakistani born are prime suspect in
terrorist activities all over the world. The ISI has been accused of playing a role in major terrorist
attacks including 9/11 in the USA, terrorism in Kashmir, Mumbai Train Bombings, London Bombings,
Indian Parliament Attack, Varanasi bombings, Hyderabad bombings, Mumbai terror attacks or the
attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul.

Do you believe these are marks of a good neighbour? Then what is the reason for your preaching of
love towards Pakistan? Perhaps, as you said, because it is your ancestor's homeland, you have a soft
feeling for Pakistan and cannot see the difference. On the eve of accepting an honorary doctorate from
a British university, we heard you say, "I really believe we are the same ..when you come away from
India or Pakistan you realize there is no Indian or Pakistani were all together. We are - culturally, as
human beings, as friends"

Which Pakistanis are you referring to? The Pakistanis belonging to the land, admonished as the
epicenter of global terrorism, not just by India or USA but even by its friendly allies like Iran or China.
Or is it the self-created, Talibanic Pakistan, who still imposes Jijya on the non believers or finds
pleasure in blowing up girl's schools..

Are you talking about its President class like the current Mr. Zardari, vowed to wage a 1,000-year war
with India or the late Mrs. Bhutto who started Jihad in Kashmiri that lead to the exodus of Hindu
minorities from the Muslim majority state of India, as refugees in their own country?

Are you referring to Pakistanis loyal to the ISI and the military who train their soldiers with only one
objective, i.e. to fight Hindu India? If your mind is concerned about the faceless mass of Pakistanis,
does it also include the dwindling minorities? Or are you just concerned about the celebrities and the
social elites?

It is true Mr. Khan that we belong to the same human species but it is hard to stretch the similarities
much further between "us" and "them". We are from the same original land of Bharat but we want to
keep her intact, they want to break it into thousand pieces.

Our ancestors happen to be the same. We acknowledge and adore the heritage but they abhor and
decimate whoever is available in an attempt to wipe out the link. We are culturally the same. We have
created the culture over centuries what they dream to destroy in moments.

Ours is a 10,000 year old civilization, theirs is a 62 years old country undoing whole human
civilization. We extend our hands repeatedly to promote friendship and amity; they give us ISI,
Lashkar, Harkat, Kashmir, Kargil and 26/11 in exchange.

Do you think that the Indians nationals who died in all the above wars, the Indian soldiers who lost
their lives in cross-border ceasefire violations or the Indian civilians who are killed by the ISI trained
Islamic terrorists and their affiliates, in all those serial blasts, all over the country, willfully sacrificed
their lives as a friendly neighbourhood gesture?
Can you face the families of the victims of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or the martyrs of the Kargil
war and try to explain to them that "They are good neighbours. Let us love each other." Can you
explain why the two gunmen at Cama hospital, during the Mumbai carnage, asked the man who gave
them water, what his religion was, and shot him dead when he said he was a Hindu?

If you cannot, then perhaps you understand why the majority of India does not consider Pakistan as a
good neighbour to have. Perhaps you believe that the peaceful religious co-existence that you created in
your home (and we appreciate that) can be extended to the large world outside. As you rightly said, we
Indians trust and do accept everybody but what you did fail to mention was that it is the Indic tradition,
essentially coming out of its pre-Islamic Hindu ethos.

If you think otherwise, show us a single Islamic country where the non-believers enjoy the same
equality as the believers. Since partition, the Hindus left over in Pakistan and Bangladesh has suffered
terribly. Strictly Islamic countries, like Saudi Arabia, do not allow any other religions to exist. Hindus
working in the Gulf countries are not allowed to practice their religion in public. Saudi Arabia insists
that India sends only a Muslim ambassador. Hindu Muslim unity by and large has generally been a
matter of Hindus trying to please or accommodate Muslims. One cannot forget when Vajpayee was
extending his hand for peace Musharraf was planning the Kargil insurgency.

Let us remind you, your own statement "I am a Muslim in a country called India .Weve never been
made to feel this is a Hindu country." Can you find me a Hindu in Pakistan who can reciprocate that

Some years ago, another Mr. Khan, first name Feroze, from your fraternity was banned from entering
Pakistan for saying, "India is secular unlike Pakistan". That is the basic difference of the land of
"Hindu" India from the Islamic "pure land" of Pakistan.

So please do not ask us to love Pakistan.

Please do not lump the people of India and Pakistan together. We Indians are proud to preserve our
separate identity....And please do not insult the land that gave you your life, name and fame, by
claiming that her worst enemy, who wants to break her into 1000 pieces, is a great neighbour.

Otherwise it would be sad if somebody accuses you of putting your religion ahead of your country.

Give it a thought, Shahrukh.