Wednesday, 24 September 2014


In today’s day and age, everyone claims to be cosmopolitan and global citizens. India’s Generation-Next isn’t any different. We somehow manage to gel in wherever we set foot. Things, however, are a little different when it comes to our sister nation, Pakistan. It is considered taboo and outright ridiculous to say that we should have good relations with our neighbours.

We seem to know a lot about various parts of the world. How much do we know about our next-door neighbour though? Let’s find out.

Languages spoken in Pakistan

Although Urdu (and English) is the official language in Pakistan, close to half the population speaks Punjabi. Other dominant languages are Pashto, Sindhi and Balochi.

Brace yourselves for the other minor languages spoken in Pakistan - Gujarati, Kutchi, Marwari, Bengali, and even Brij-bhasha.


More than 90% of Pakistanis are Muslims, of which 90% are Sunnis. Pakistan also has about 3.5 million Hindus and 3 million Christians. Pakistan is also home to about 20,000 Sikhs and 15,000 Parsis.

Some interesting facts about Pakistan’s leaders

1) India and Pakistan were divided on religious lines. However, did you know that the Father of Pakistan – Mohammed Ali Jinnah – was not a practicing Muslim? A liberal at heart, he loved his alcohol. He even had a taste for pork, which in Islam is considered haram (unclean).

Jinnah loved Mumbai. Jinnah house still exists in the city.

If Jinnah had to have his way, Pakistan would have been a secular country. He wanted the constitution to show Pakistan as a secular democracy where everyone would have the right to profess their own faith.

Today, Pakistan is an Islamic state. However, it has not fully adopted the Shariah law. It has a judicial system that is only based on the Shariah.

Coming back to Jinnah, while he was still in India, he had married a Parsi lady. Jinnah’s daughter Dina had differences with him over marrying a Parsi man and ended up severing all ties. Jinnah’s descendants through his daughter Dina continue to live in India. “Who”, you ask? The Wadia family of ‘Bombay Dyeing’ fame.

2) The song ‘Saare Jahaan Se Acha’ arouses patriotic fervor in every Indian heart. But do you know who wrote it?

Poet and philosopher Mohammed ‘Allama’ Iqbal did. Ironically, he is credited as one of the founding fathers of Pakistan.

Born to Kashmiri Pandits (Brahmins of the Sapru clan) who converted to Islam before he was born, Iqbal was originally a member of the Indian National Congress. Eventually, he quit the party when he began to feel that Muslims were not getting enough representation. He went on to join the Muslim League, and was in the forefront when it came to the idea of having a separate state for Muslims, post independence.

He never lived to see independence though. He died in 1938. It is said that towards the end, he had become disillusioned with the idea of Pakistan.

3) The Pakistani army is considered to be one of the most secular and progressive organizations in Pakistan. The General Zia-ul-Haq regime in the 80s, however, was anything but liberal. In his zeal to stay in power and earn the loyalty of conservatives, General Zia began a process of rapid Islamization of Pakistan. In the process, he not only banned alcohol, but also placed restrictions on music, films, and other forms of entertainment. This was a bad time for artistes in general. If music in Pakistan survived, it is only because of the underground music scene that thrived during that period.

Post-partition cross-overs

Partition was not the only time when people from either side of the border crossed over to the other side of the fence. Thousands of people have (and still are) crossing borders, for a wide array of reasons, including persecution, to re-unite with family, marriage, etc.

Some of the notable crossovers are:-

1) A. K Hangal – Did you know that actor A. K. Hangal was in Pakistan till 1949? An active participant in the Indian freedom struggle, he was lodged in prison in Karachi for three years for being a member of the Communist Party. After moving to Mumbai, he got involved in a theatre group named IPTA, along with legends Balraj Sahni and Kaifi Azmi (who also had Marxist leanings).

2) Asif Iqbal – Born and brought up in Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh), he migrated to Pakistan in 1961, apparently due to prejudice and lack of opportunities in India. A technically superb batsman and a useful medium pace bowler, he went on to captain the Pakistan cricket team in the late 70s and 80s. Legend has it that when Mohd. Azharuddin was initially finding it difficult to break into the Indian team in the 1980s, Sunil Gavaskar turned the tide in his favour with this statement to the selectors - ‘We do not want another Asif Iqbal’.

3) Moin Akhtar – Famous comedian/TV anchor Moin Akhtar’s parents migrated from Bombay to Karachi in 1950. A great mimic, he was fluent in English, Bengali, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pashto, Gujarati and Urdu. He could also do a great Lakhnavi, South Indian, Bhojpuri and Hyderabadi accent. What stood out about him was that his jokes were all very clean. India would have had a great legend to flaunt if only his parents hadn’t migrated.

4) Alyy Khan - Super talented actor Alyy Khan was born in Karachi. He migrated with his family to Mumbai when he was 9 years old, and that's where he groomed himself to become an actor. Eventually, he fell in love with a Pakistani origin girl, and he had to move out of India just to be able to live with her and the kids. As of today, he shuttles between Dubai, Belfast, and Karachi, where his wife lives. He still considers Aamchi Mumbai his home though.

Some of the best Indo-Pak collaborations

1) Josh – The popular band, consisting of Rupinder Singh Magon aka ‘Rup’ and Qurram Hussain aka ‘Q’ is very popular, not just in the two nations, but worldwide.

2) Biddu and Nazia Hassan/Zoheb Hassan – Nazia and Zohaib were pop music sensations in the London desi music circuit and in Pakistan. Indian-born music composer Biddu met the London-raised brother-sister group at a party in London, and the rest is history. Biddu and Nazia in particular, came up with disco hits like ‘Aap Jaisa Koi’, ‘Boom Boom’, ‘Disco Deewane’, and many others.

3) Rohan Bopanna and Aisam ul-haq Qureshi – During their 4-year association (2007-2011), the tennis pair won just one ATP title. They, however, reached the quarter-final and beyond stages quite a few times. They broke into the world top-10 rankings a couple of times.

Minority report

Most Pakistanis from minority communities have found it tough to make it to the mainstream. The Blasphemy Law is often abused to persecute them. Consequently, a lot of people from minority communities have migrated to other countries – UK, USA, Australia, recently thousands of Hindus had fled to India. Nevertheless, there are a few who have earned their fame. For some it was a struggle, others were lucky to find themselves amidst liberal and progressive surroundings. Some of them are mentioned below:-

Rana Bhagwandas - First Hindu Chief Justice of Pakistan. Interestingly, he was not the first non-Muslim to occupy that post. Others like A.R. Cornelius and Dorab Patel had held the post in the past.

Bohemia (real name Roger David) - Punjabi rap artist and music producer.

Anil Dalpat - Pakistani cricketer during the late 80s. He played as a wicketkeeper.

Danesh Kaneria - Legspinner. Incidentally, a cousin of Anil Dalpat.

Jamshed Mehta - First Mayor of Karachi

J. M. Mandal - Pakistan's first law minister. Eventually migrated to India, but was reduced to insignificance.

Behram Dinshaw - Sportsman (boating)

Dr. Dennis Isaac - Writer

Deepak Perwani - A very popular fashion designer, well known even internationally.

Sunita Marshall - Supermodel

Louis 'Gumby' Pinto - Musician, plays as a drummer for the band 'Noori'

Salman Albert – Another famous drummer

Wallis Mathias - First Christian cricketer to play for Pakistan.

Antao D'Souza - Test cricketer during the 60s.

Sohail Fazal - Cricketer

Zoe and Rachel Viccaji - The Viccaji sisters are singers and theatre personalities

Robin Ghosh - Famous actor

and many others.

Pakistani Goans!

Did you know that Pakistan, particularly the port city of Karachi, has a sizeable number of people of Goan origin. Thousands of Goans had migrated to the port city of Karachi way back in 1820, for better prospects. Many others were sailors, who happened to be at the Karachi port (with their families) in August 1947 and decided to stay back. Their descendants call themselves 'Karachi Goankars', speak Konkani, have their own version of an annual Goa Day celebration and a carnival too. By the way, they also love their feni. So don't be surprised if you find a Pakistani Gonsalves or D'Mello or Pinto.

Friends of India

It's not hard to find anti-India propoganda in Pakistan. It's all over and sometimes deep-rooted. News channels regularly talk about how India keeps 'threatening' Pakistan. Some so-called 'thinkers' come up with bizarre conspiracy theories about India and her 'motivations' (look up Zaid Hamid). India has her own share of crazies and ultra-jingoists who keep spewing venom about Pakistan.

But not everyone is cynical. There are a few intellectuals in Pakistan who vouch for good relations with India, and heavily criticize India-haters. They vehemently defend India on television debates. When Hassan Nisar, for example, speaks, his pro-India stance makes it hard to believe that he's a Pakistani. Other pro-Indian intellectuals include Najam Sethi, Ansar Burney, Wajahat Khan, and others.


It might sound clichéd, but we need to maintain relations with Pakistan. We are fortunate that Pakistan is not an all-out military state or a nation ruled by outright fundamentalists. Pakistan is the biggest victim of terrorism in the world. It is the best interests of India and the whole of South East Asia that Pakistan remains a democracy. Politics of hatred will only give leverage to radicals, and can ruin whatever sense of peace and stability we have managed to hold onto at the moment. Although we have many differences, regular engagement is the only way to keep things moving. Also, remember that the ordinary people on both sides actually have no interest in conflict. Many actually want to interact with the other side.

If you don’t agree, maybe you should watch this video:-



  1. Over the years the relations have thawed but there is scope for betterment. We forget that we are two halves of whole.
    Great post and very informative :)

    1. There is always scope for improvement. Lack of understanding and blind jingoism exists on both sides of the border. And then there is the big K that is used as an alibi to keep both sides on tenterhooks.

      Glad you liked the post :)

  2. I wasn't aware of even half the facts you mentioned above, all we do is sit on the couch and pray for india to win the cricket match when they are battling against Pakistan. We rarely care about the facts you collected and so well collated.
    you are right, behind the fences are those who are no different then who we are. They are our extended family..:D
    Thanks for writing this post. Thought provoking...

    1. If only more people on both sides thought of the other as extended family...

      Thanks Monica

  3. Okay! I seriously did not see this coming. Karachi Goankars... wow! well researched!

    1. Thanks Swats :)

      Ur back to blogging?? Please tell me you are!

  4. Lot of things in there that I didn't know about!

    1. Neither did I. I had to do a lot of research :)

  5. I have pakistan based ancestry. Enjoyed reading it. I understand that it was more out of personal reasons tht Gandhi allowed for partition. It would have been calmer if there was no division.

    1. I dont see it as a Gandhi's fault but Jinnah and his supporters wanted it. And when a majority of population wants partition no Gandhi can do anything! Probably like partition happens in joint families too, no parents can stop it!!!

    2. @Shine - On the contrary, I think partition was inevitable. Maybe things would have been worse if there was no partition.

    3. @Shesha - Very true Shesha. Public ki marzi ke saamne kiska bas chakta hai?

  6. After recently falling in love with Zindagi channel airing pakistani shows a lot of my inhibitions about pakistan were broken. I became curious about people and life there (people who are not in military). And this post of yours has covered much part of pakistan. So much talent there but rulers are just letting it get wasted. I want to visit pakistan at some point in my life. What better way to know about a country and its people than traveling. Loved ur post!!!

    1. Alas! They don't issue visas easily :(

      Glad you liked it. Thanks :)

  7. Enjoyed the facts and stats CRD... There is so much we don't know of our sister country... :)


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