Dubai: Last week’s terrorist attack on a convoy of vehicles on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway at Pulwama, which killed 40 personnel of India’s Central Reserve Police Force, has prompted UAE-based expats from India and Pakistan to call for peace.
As tensions peak between their home countries, expats from across the border said violence in any form, by anyone, anywhere is condemnable.
Proud citizens of their respective countries, they said nothing mattered more than being humane and living in dignity.
According to them, their home countries would do well to provide a greater focus on development, infrastructure, education, employment, health and law and order as economic, social, physical and emotional well-being would leave no room for negativity.
As one expat said, “There are many lessons we can learn from the UAE as it marks the Year of Tolerance. We are the same Indians and Pakistanis who live and work here in perfect harmony with each other and among those from 200 nationalities. There are many cross-border couples too who have mutual love and respect for each other and their families. At the end of the day, we are all human beings with the same basic needs and feelings. And each one of us deserves a decent chance at peace,”
A look at what members of the two communities in the UAE have to say:
Rizwan Sajan, businessman
“The mindless massacre of the brave Indian soldiers is a reprehensible act. As a patriotic Indian I condemn the attack and am raising funds for the families of those killed. At the same time I understand that these kinds of heinous acts anywhere in the world are not perpetrated by the common man who is peace loving. In the UAE, Indians and Pakistani expatriates share the everyday joys and challenges of survival and peacefully coexist. We watch cricket matches, musical shows, celebrate Eid and Diwali together. Hatred among people is fostered by those with evil agendas and those people need to be singled out. I want to tell people from both nations not to feed into the hate narrative as that is what terrorists want ultimately and we are unwittingly falling prey to their plan. Only way to resolve issues is through peaceful negotiation and dialogue.”
Roxanne Saderoo, hotelier and NGO founder
“As an international Indian I have lived across the globe and have many Pakistanis as friends. I have always found love and harmony and seen that no one is really interested in perpetrating hate and hostility. The Pulwama incident has saddened me as an Indian. As a founder of an NGO for building human capital, I have a centre in India as well as in Pakistan and find that our problems and our issues remain the same. I feel we can resolve all our problems only through peaceful negotiations.”
Dr Arun Kumar Sharma, consultant neurologist
“Sentiments are running high on either side, but in times like these, it is important to exercise restraint and be responsible. Common people on both sides of the border want peace and any mindless violence is an act of terrorism where both countries suffer. In the UAE, a country that both Pakistani and Indian expatriates have adopted as their home, there exists a unique and unparalleled homogeneous mix of diverse cultures, religions, ethnicities and nationalities. People are very tolerant of each other’s views and perceptions without any prejudice. Hate mongering spreads like wild fire through the irresponsible use of social media. I think people need to exercise self-control, think rationally and not emotionally, and refrain from gossip and slander.”
Jaya Harikumar, Yoga instructor
“I condemn the heinous attack on Indian soldiers at Pulwama and feel sad that the blood of these innocents was spilled, it is indeed very sad. But I think post that, there is no value to war mongering as any war or aggression always has innocents as collateral damage. We cannot resolve any issue with violence. I have lived in Dubai for over 35 years and in these three decades made many friends, many of who are Pakistani expatriates. I have come to realise that most human beings are the same within and everyone wants peace. It is the politicians who distort the reality, we must not give in to that.”
Yogesh Mehta, Businessman
“Terrorism is a crime and a cowardly act committed by puppets who are merely pawns in a larger game by vested interests who want war rather than peace. This act must be addressed by both countries rationally and patiently. The blame game must stop at once. The common man suffers untold consequences when our countries are hostile. Human lives must be saved and cherished and both sides must protect their citizens. In the UAE both Indians and Pakistanis live in perfect harmony and enjoy each other’s traditions and customs and live like a large and extended family.
I wish the world would take the UAE as an example.”
What Pakistani expatriates say:
Sara Waqar, businesswoman
“The Pulwama attack is highly condemnable. There are non-state actors operating in both countries. Only through dialogue and collaboration can the two countries overcome their challenges. War only leads to more destruction.
Pakistan has lost over 70,000 lives to terrorism. We have a new leadership in the country that is looking for stability. Let’s use this opportunity to address all our bilateral issues, including terrorism and Kashmir..”
Afzal Baig, finance professional
“I have lived in Dubai for over 12 years with as many Indian friends as from Pakistan. Although our borders have divided us, I think both countries have more in common in terms of food, culture, music and colour. Scratch the surface and we are exactly the same within. History is witness to great countries waging wars to resolve problems. But solutions came about only when people sat across the table and resolved their differences amicably. Could anyone have imagined travelling from East to West Germany or across Europe on a single visa? Well, it has happened and we are all witness to it. If they can move forward, so can we. I don’t think any educated and enlightened person on either side of the border supports violence. The only way forward is through peaceful negotiations.”
Zareen Khan, PR professional
“I am one of many Pakistanis who were fortunate enough to be born and raised in the UAE. This beautiful country has not only enabled me to live and work with my fellow Indians but also proudly count them as my closest friends. We celebrate Diwali with the same vigour as we gather to eat Sawwai on Eid. We share the good fortune and we hold each other up when times are hard.”
Sami Tariq, tech professional
“I was five years old when our family moved from Pakistan to Dubai and I have grown up with an equal number of friends from India and Pakistan. Together, we have celebrated festivals and shared food, humour and the most seminal moments of our lives. We are all on the same page and are more alike than we would like to think we are. It is politics and the media which have vitiated the atmosphere and driven wedges. I don’t think any of us really supports violence. No issues anywhere in the world can be resolved by going to war. We need to focus on building bridges and spreading the message of peace.”
Aslam Jawaid, advocate and videographer
“I have lived in Dubai for many years and I can say this with complete confidence that people of both countries here have a different equation. Cross-border terrorism does not serve any purpose other than sowing seeds of hatred. Here both Indians and Pakistanis have observed the finest principles of coexistence, brotherhood and peace. I know families where cross-border marriages have taken place, we have a shared history and culture and these are things we must remember. I condemn violence of any kind that spills the blood of innocents.”