Ayesha Ejaz got numb when television channels broke news about Indian Army’s surgical strikes at militant camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Within no time, her entire family was glued to the TV set. Ayesha looked nervous as her mother-in-law put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Sab theek ho jaayega (Everything would be fine),” she said.
Ayesha is from Karachi and got married to an Indian boy Rashid, a banker, five years ago in Uttar Pradesh. She is facing a strange predicament as her heart is torn between maika (parental house) and sasural (matrimonial house). “This should end. Peace should prevail. Hamen aman chaihiye (we want peace),” she said.
Ayesha is not alone: there are hundreds of wives from Pakistan who are caught in a cleft stick of confusion. They were born in Pakistan but married in a country whom Pakistan treats as its enemy.
“I am tense when India plays against Pakistan on the cricket field. That tension is different from what we are facing now. In cricket, I exchange friendly banter with my dewar and husband, as they support India and I favour Pakistan,” she said.
“But what has happened today is different. Woh bhi apne hain and idhar wale bhi apne hai. In both cases, someone among us will die, if war breaks out between the two countries,” she claimed.
Rabbia Hassan is another wife from Pakistan who got married around 30 years back to her cousin in Chowk. “I have faced such situations earlier. You feel bad at first and then you get used to it,” said Rabbia, whose brother lives in Shahadra near Lahore, said.
“Last March, I had gone to Pakistan. Believe me, there is no acrimony among people. They love Indians. What you are seeing today is political positioning. I have seen this happening earlier … the governments have changed but their working has not,” she said.
“When Kargil happened, I was scared. I thought I would be lynched if people come to know that I am from Pakistan,” she said with a big laughter. “Look nothing happened and I am alive even today,” she said adding: “I know new brides from Pakistan would be trembling with fear. When people talk bad about Pakistan, you feel hurt. That phase is temporary and it passes off.”
Another Karachi girl Mehroo Khan had scanned Pakistani papers once the news about surgical strikes broke out. “I want to read what Pakistani papers are saying. None of the papers talk about the surgical strike operation. They say Indian forces opened unprovoked firing … that’s it,” she said quoting The Dawn.
“Look what is happening is not in my hand. I can only pray that there is not further escalation,” she said. “There is no masla (issue) of I being from Pakistan. People in my locality know. In fact, they are my support group. I am not going back even if war breaks outs. India is my country now. Why should I leave it,” she asked.