March 2020

Preaching Hindutva

This is related to your cover story ‘India Crumbles’. With the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) laws prevailing in India, it seems that Narendra Modi is fast losing his popularity and is being questioned for his stand to make India a Hindu state. Many, including the students of Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University. protested against the CAA but faced a crackdown by the police. The situation went out of control and reactions started pouring in, condemning the atrocities on the students andthe promulgation of the NRC and CAA. Strict action must be taken against these laws as this will soon create a serious global situation for which ‘shining’ India would be solely responsible.

Saher Shah,
Karachi, Pakistan.

US-Pak Relations

So far, SouthAsia magazine has published countless interviews of industry bigwigs, diplomats, country heads, regional managers, etc., and I must say the quality of these interviews is really good as they are interesting and informative. This time again, the interview of Ervin Massinga, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Pakistan Affairs at the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs in the US State Department, struck the right chords. Talking about the US-Pak relationship, Ervin Massinga was of the view that both the countries have real potential and joint efforts of both countries can further increase this potential. There is also an agreement between the leaderships of both countries that their improved relations would highly benefit the people and the business communities.

Tauqeer Salahuddin,
Islamabad, Pakistan.

Sandwiched Community

This is with reference to the article ‘Sandwiched Community’ by Quratulain Thalho (SouthAsia, February 2020).

This article was a real eye opener for me. While we are currently inundated with narratives, some true and some fabricated, about Bangladeshi refugees in India, the fact that there are 3 million Bangladeshis living in Pakistan without proper documentation is astonishing, to say the least. Their living situation, essentially in limbo, with no hope for their future or their future generations, is truly heartbreaking.

One of the many excellent points Ms. Thalho made in her article, about the government of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Awami League, is particularly astonishing. The BAL apparently considers these migrants supporters of the opposition, the BNP. This irrational paranoia of the BNP somehow creeping up on Sheikh Hasina and snatching power is extremely far-fetched, at best. The BNP has been beaten down significantly by Sheikh Hasina’s “network” to not be a veritable threat any longer and perhaps for many years to come, if ever. Thus, to assume that Bangladeshis in Pakistan, scraping by to make a living and existing in abject poverty, with no hopes of being able to improve their lives can actually be a threat to the Bangladesh government is absurd on the part of the ruling party.

Having said that, these people are Bangladeshis in name only, having been settled in Pakistan for almost 50 years. Many have been born in Pakistan. Thus, they should be given the proper documentation to allow Pakistani citizenship. Keeping 3 million innocent victims of the liberation war in limbo is a grave human rights issue. They are not going anywhere and Bangladesh will never take them in. It seems pointless to leave innocent victims of war stateless.

Sabria Chowdhury Balland,
Houston, USA.

Fighting for Identity

This is regarding the article ‘Sandwiched Community’ by Quratulain Thalho about the Bengali community living in Pakistan since they took refuge after 1971. Bengalis have time and again been questioned about their existence in Pakistan as they don’t hold any documented identity claiming their right to be in the country. Though a large number of Bengalis were able to get their documents when identity cards were being made, which they later transferred to CNICs, many of them stayed away from the course, fearing they would be deported to their country of origin.

However, to further intensify their problems, even their home country is not willing to welcome them assuming their support for the Bangladeshi opposition party that is pro-Pakistan. The question is, how long will they have to fight for their identity? Will the Pakistan government reconsider its policies? Let’s just hope they don’t have to face what the people of Assam are facing.
Maheen Saleem,
Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Worsening Conditions

This is regarding the article ‘Only a Face-off’ written by Raja Rafi Ullah about the assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani via a drone strike near Baghdad’s international airport and the outcome it had on the people of Iran as a whole. Though the act was condemned by many international observers, Iran responded by targeting US military bases in Iraq with missile strikes. Iran even mistook a Ukrainian passenger plane as US military aircraft, resulting in the death of 176 innocent human beings. The relationship between both the countries has been bitter since 1978 and conditions will worsen if they proceed towards escalation of hostilities.
Asad Elyas,
Tehran, Iran.

Unique Combination

With talented chefs and street vendors, Karachi Eat 2020 proved to be a tasty and flavoursome food fest with people of all ages enjoying their time. Several eateries had new entrees as well as home-based preparations.

The menus really tantalized the taste buds. Chipseez introduced signature beetroot, sweet potato and potato chips, Lemon Grass launched Crying Tiger and Spicogetti offered new entree Chic ‘N’ Cheese Spaghetti in addition to Khausa and Singaporean Rice. Churrosity also came back with a new Churro Hot Dog.

To top it all, the performances by Zoe Viccaji, Canadian bhangra group Josh and Punjabi band Sahara UK among others, added further excitement to the atmosphere. As they say, good music and good food make a unique combination.

Asim Riaz,
Karachi, Pakistan.

Pre-planned Agenda

The Wuhan coronavirus spreading from China is a serious disease that circles the globe. Scientists do not yet know how lethal the new coronavirus is so there is uncertainty about how much damage it might cause but there is growing consensus that the pathogen is readily transmitted between humans. Though the virus is attacking the innocent Chinese at large, in actuality, this virus has its long term pre-planned agenda against China to destroy its economy by hitting at them directly. Currently, there have been only a handful of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in India, mostly in recent travellers to Wuhan. Rather than rushing out to buy masks and fretting over the unlikely chance of contracting coronavirus, we must be vigilant in monitoring its spread while working to find solutions.
Lalita Goswami,
Kerala, India.