• Friday, June 21, 2024

Featured

Maryam Sharif stresses on ‘Punjabiyat’, calls for Pakistan-India unity

While, the India and Pakistan border have divided the Punjabis, the Punjabiyats is still alive and unified in the immigrants settled in UK.

Indian and Pakistani actors came together in the Punjabi film Aaja Mexico Challiye (2022), which was about the dangerous donkey route taken by Punjabis from both countries trying to migrate to the West. (Photo credit: iStock)

By: Vibhuti Pathak

Recently, in an interview with Maryam Nawaz Sharif, chief minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province, spoke about her Punjabi identity while advocating better ties with India.

While having a meal with 3000 Sikh pilgrims at Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib, Sharif told Indian media: “You are from Punjab [India], I am from Pakistan, but I am also a true Punjabi,” Maryam said. She also quoted her father, former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif: “Don’t fight wars with neighbours, open the doors of friendship, open the doors of your hearts.”

Before 1947 partition, Punjab was a united state and was known for its agricultural  and cultural richness. The province got its name from the five rivers flowing through it. ‘Punj’ means five and ‘aab’ is Sanskrit for ‘water’.

The region is culturally renowned as the place of birth of Sikhism.

Sharif used the term ‘Punjabiyat’ in her interview which means literally Punjabiness. While Sharif highlighted the bilateral ties with India, she spoke about being ‘a pure Punjabi’ and ‘Punjab resides in our hearts’.

More than 75 years after Punjab was divided in 1947, and in spite of the four wars between India and Pakistan, there are many who continue to feel the bond. They feel united by their common culture and identity — by Punjabiyat.

“While there are traumatic memories of Partition, there are also bonds of empathy and a shared culture. Many on both sides of the border share a sentiment that the time has come to overcome the tragedy, restore the sense of loss,” foreign policy and strategic affairs expert C Raja Mohan said.

There are families in Pakistan’s Punjab who have relatives in Indian Punjab, they both speak Punjabi and worship the same guru. The difference is only an international border between Pakistan and India.

Several attempts have been made to unite members of families that were torn asunder during Partition. Punjabi diaspora communities have acted as a unifying force. Indian and Pakistani actors came together in the Punjabi film Aaja Mexico Challiye (2022), which was about the dangerous donkey route taken by Punjabis from both countries trying to migrate to the West.

Art and culture

sidhu moosewala
Sidhu Moosewala, Indian Singer (Photo: @sidhu_moosewala)

Punjabi films from India are extremely popular in Pakistan, despite an official ban on their screening since 2016. Carry on Jatta 3 (2023) was a huge hit in Pakistan, where the film skirted the ban by working with Pakistan-based distributors, and production houses based in the UK or Canada. Maujaan Hi Maujaan (2023) was far more popular in Pakistan than in India.

There are deep cultural connections in music too, from the poetry of Bulle Shah to the Punjabi rap of Sidhu Moosewala, who was as popular in Pakistan as in India.

The Punjabi language faces a unique challenge with two distinct scripts: Gurmukhi, with 35 letters, used in Indian Punjab, and Shahmukhi, a Persian script, prevalent in Pakistani Punjab. This division along religious lines has significantly impacted Punjabi’s status.

Until 2013, Pakistan did not officially recognise Punjabi, and even after acknowledgement, it was relegated to a secondary language. Presently, the provincial assembly of Punjab in Pakistan prohibits members from speaking Punjabi, despite its historical use. Despite Punjab’s significant population and size, Punjabi instruction begins relatively late, in sixth grade rather than primary school.

Political affiliations

kartarpur gurudwara pakistan
Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur. (Photo credit: Getty)

On 9 November 2019, when Pakistan announced the opening of the Kartarpur corridor—the site of the first Sikh commune established by the first Sikh guru, Nanak Dev—Punjab welcomed the decision more than anyone else.

Then Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal visited Pakistan as part of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s delegation in 1999 to discuss trade and the maintenance of Sikh shrines in Pakistan. During his first term as Chief Minister (2002-07), Capt Amarinder Singh made two trips to Pakistan, for the World Punjabi Conference in Lahore in 2004, and the inauguration of the Nankana Sahib-Mannawala dual carriageway in 2006.

In 2012, then Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal visited Lahore for the final of the Asia Kabaddi Cup, and jointly inaugurated with then Pak Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the Punjab Youth Festival and Indo-Pak Dosti Cup for the differently abled.

The Attari-Wagah land route was opened in 2005, with truck movement beginning in 2007. The ICP at Attari provided facilities for fast and cost-effective land trade between India and Pakistan. According to a government calculation in 2014, the trade potential for the ICP was $10 billion.

This route was shut in 2019, after Pakistan suspended trade following the abrogation of Article 370. But many on both sides are convinced that trade between the two Punjabs, and between India and Pakistan, is mutually beneficial.

While, the India and Pakistan border have divided the Punjabis, the Punjabiyats is still alive and unified in the immigrants settled in UK. Many Indian and Pakistani people become friends when they live outside their respective countries. Living in a new environment often encourages people to bond over shared experiences, cultural similarities, and a common understanding of being immigrants or expatriates. It can help break down barriers and foster friendships based on mutual respect and understanding.

Related Stories

Videos

Mrunal Thakur on Dhamaka, experience of working with Kartik Aaryan,…
Nushrratt Bharuccha on Chhorii, pressure of comparison with Lapachhapi, upcoming…
Abhimanyu Dassani on Meenakshi Sundareshwar, how his mom Bhagyashree reacted…