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New Muslim generation indifferent towards Pak
By S Ubaidur Rahman

Pakistan's CEO General Pervez Musharraf's proposed visit next month has created a sort of hysteria in the country. Everyone who is anyone seems to be bitten by the bug. Though it is not yet clear when the general would arrive, but it is the talk of the town. There is speculation as to where he will be staying and whether he will be accorded red carpet welcome or not and if he will be visiting the old Delhi haveli where he was born and lived before his family moved to Pakistan.

In the midst of this euphoria that resembles that of Vajpayee's Lahore Yatra, there is one section in the country which does not seem to be enthused at all: it is the Muslim community here. There is no hoopla about the impending visit of Musharraf in the community, notwithstanding the fact that a large number of Muslims have relatives in Pakistan.

There is no hope of any perceptible change in Indo-Pak relations whether Vajpayee goes there or Musharraf comes here, says Faisal, a post-graduate student in the Jamia Millia Islamia. Pakistan has no special connection with the Muslims in the country. It is alien to us like China or Bangladesh, Faisal added. The recent euphoria over the proposed visit will evaporate shortly and again there will be brick-bating between the two permanent foes.

Faisal is not the only person around with such views. A large number of Muslims have been expressing similar views. To them it is a myth that Muslims of the country have a soft corner for Pakistan as is often claimed by the government and the media. Even people whose relatives migrated to Pakistan in the wake of Partition are now giving a second thought about maintaining relations with their relatives across the border. They feel exhausted by the allegations of having relations with Pakistan and are not interested in carrying the burden for long.

Muhammad Akram, a resident of Ahmadabad who was recently in Delhi, is among the same breed of people. Whenever we visited Pakistan to see our relatives, we were suspected to be ISI agents. So why should we go to Pakistan? I am not interested in seeing my relatives in Pakistan any more over such a high cost. Now I don't go to Pakistan at all.

It is not that Akram has some very far off relatives in Pakistan. His daughter is married there with his brother-in-law's son. His own brothers are also staying in Hyderabad, Sindh. But now he has stopped going to Pakistan. He says that it does not hold any interest for him or his family anymore as things have changed very fast. His family members including his own wife who always insisted on visiting Pakistan every six months is loath to the idea.

It is not merely two Ds - distance and deterrence in visiting Pakistan that has made people change their minds. It is the peculiar attitude of the migrants (Mohajirs) to Pakistan that has forced these people change their perception of Pakistan. Emotional proximity has now faded away.

People like Akram and his family have their bitter experiences while dealing with their relatives across the border. They had to give a second thought about continuing their relations with relatives in Pakistan. 'They seem to have developed a feeling that they are superior to us Indian Muslims' says Tahir Khan, a resident of Delhi's Walled City. Muhajirs' behavior with their fellow Sindhis in Karachi and Hyderabad and the mistrust that has developed between the two communities there has also made Indian Muslims reluctant to visit them in Pakistan.

But some people do not agree with this perception. M Afzal, editor of weekly Akhbar-e-Nau, says that it will be wrong to say that Muslims are trying to terminate their relationship with their relatives in Pakistan. He says that relations between Indian Muslims and their Pakistani relatives are a historical fact and Muslims have never tried to disown their Pakistani relatives who migrated to Pakistan. Has any Indian terminated his relations with a relative staying in US or the UK only because he has migrated to another country? If not why should we presume that Indian Muslims want to disown their Pakistani relatives. Afzal adds that if bilateral relations between India and Pakistan improve, it will definitely result in easing the curbs on travel between the twin countries. But he sounds pessimist over any positive outcome of the proposed visit of the Pakistani CEO.

People on the street are not much enthused over the hoopla surrounding the proposed visit. They feel that they had enough of Pakistan during the last fifty four years and now it is time to pay attention to their own lives. ‘To hell with Pakistan if it adds some more troubles in the already troubled life of poor Indian Muslims,’ says Sumama, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia.
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