When it comes to India and Pakistan, both history and popular media have instilled a sense of intense rivalry in the hearts of the people that reside in the two countries. While thinking of the neighbouring country, whether you are an Indian or a Pakistani, it would be difficult not to harbor a sense of distrust towards the other, since that’s what we have seen and absorbed from our popular culture. But is it really so, or is it a generalization of a nation and its people? This Independence Day, we set out to find out if this was indeed true.
Pakistan Independence Day and Indian Independence Day fall on consecutive days, on 14th and 15th August respectively, and both nations commemorate this day with great fervor. To us, this provided a perfect foil to showcase how different the people from the two countries are from each other. So we went out and spoke to a few Indian and Pakistani nationals living in the UAE to gauge the stark dissimilarity between them. To our surprise, we found none of the intense jealousy, rivalry or hatred that we often suspect the other to harbor for us… what we found, instead, were tales of friendships, brotherhood, and mutual appreciation. It warmed our hearts and we decided to tell these stories to the world.
Thus, the idea of a campaign called #Beyondborders came into being. The campaign, which broke on Xpress Money’s social media channels on the 13th of August, is a series of videos that showcase the different things which help erase the boundaries of class, country, religion, age and gender between people. Music, movies, entertainment and sports are just a few of those things that help people connect with each other. The most startling revelation, though, is the fact that when Indians and Pakistanis have to share a living space, there is none of that bitter rivalry on display; instead, it is replaced by a lot of solidarity and camaraderie. The special video unveiled on India Independence Day, featuring a few labourers who are residents of a labour camp in Dubai, tells us a heartwarming tale of peace, unity and brotherhood.
We even took #beyondborders to the ground level, instead of making it a pure social media campaign. On the 14th of August, which is Pakistan’s Independence Day, we went down to a labour camp in Dubai for a 3 hour celebration with the 1000 residents of the camp. The program helped the labourers enjoy and unwind with a lot of music, dance, and games. With a number of prizes to be won during the event, the participation levels were at an all time high. One of the most coveted prizes were the free tickets to the special screening of the popular Bollywood movie ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ to be held on 15th August, for the residents of the labour camp. The movie tells the story of an Indian man’s journey to Pakistan to deliver a lost Pakistani girl safely back to her family. The winners who attended the screening were thrilled about it and loved the movie as it resounded with their feelings of peace and unity between the countries.
In the end, we came to realize, that the heart of the matter is that the people from India and Pakistan share a lot more in common, than just their past; there is tremendous appreciation and respect for each other. We found that while borders can be drawn on maps, they cannot be drawn on hearts.