Abu Dhabi Relations between nuclear neighbours India and Pakistan may have hit a new low, but in the UAE there is no line of control dividing the hearts and minds of Indians and Pakistanis who live here as friends, co-workers and even roommates.
Even as tensions escalate on the border between the two nations most of the 2.6 million Indians and 1.2 million Pakistani expats here remain unaffected by the hostile climate gripping their home countries.,
“My best friend is Indian and our friendship will never get caught up in the crossfire,” said 23-year-old Fatima Bibi from Pakistan.
Fatima and Sarah Qureshi from Pune, India, went to school together in the UAE, and have been inseparable friends since their kindergarten days. “Fatima is like my own family and she is the most dear person in my life. So what if we are from India and Pakistan?” asked Qureshi, 23.
Similarly, the camaraderie and playful banter between Pakistani driver Syed Irshad Hussain and Indian maintenance worker Harpeet Kaur belie the hostilities between their countries.
“We are good friends. I know Harpeet for many years. We share jokes and tease each other about India-Pakistan issues,” said Hussain.
Another India-Pakistan friendship that goes beyond politics is the one between Khwaja and Rais, two electricians who share the same room near the Abu Dhabi Corniche. “Both of us are here to earn money and to take care of our families. We are definitely concerned about what is happening at the border. But it has nothing to do with our friendship,” said Rais who hails from Kerala.
Most expatriates from the subcontinent want their countries to end hostilities and make peace.
“Several of my relatives are in India. So for me, India and Pakistan going to war is like two families fighting against each other,” said Pakistani Mehrin Younis, who runs a salon in Abu Dhabi. Her best friend Indian Devrita Kriplani said it never mattered if Younis was from Pakistan. “We are one and will always remain one.”
In Mussafah Industrial area on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi city, there are many worker accommodations where dozens of Indians and Pakistanis share the same room.
“Our building is a shining example of peace between India and Pakistan. We are around 80-90 people here, all living like brothers. Till day, there has never been a single argument over war and politics,” said Anwar from Pakistan.
“If our countries go to war, it will set us [our nations] back by many decades,” said another worker from India.