There is a lot more to India-Pakistan relations than what appears regularly on the media in the two countries. Beyond the allegations of cross border terrorism, and jingoism camouflaged as ‘love for thy country’ there are India – Pakistan relations that defy the general narrative of hate. As a Pakistani who grew up in the UAE, I have been fortunate enough to see and experience those amiable relations between Pakistanis and Indians. When one exits the Dubai International Airport, they immediately begin to wonder whether animosity and bitterness truly exist across the Northern border of the subcontinent.

Walking past the old streets of Deira, one can see Pashtuns and Malayali people running their stores and restaurants right next to each other. One finds people eating vegetarian thaali, and others indulging in beef nihari and mutton biryani, side by side. The experience and atmosphere itself instantly remind one of Port Grand in Karachi or Nariman Point in Mumbai, but with a hint of both combined.

As one makes their way across the Dubai creek to Bur Dubai they find a very similar setting, along with hundreds of businesses run by Indian Sindhis who hire several Pakistanis across various positions.

This relationship does not by any means stop there though. Children can be found bonding, sharing ideas, and even working towards peace initiatives at schools. Pakistanis and Indians fondly play sport, watch Bollywood movies and visit local hangout spots together.

I too have witnessed such camaraderie regularly as a school student, whether it was while visiting friends homes’ for Eid or Diwali, uniting in the hope of seeing Australia lose a cricket game or even standing up and vouching for a guilty classmate.

One particular incident that always stood out for me, took place at the Dubai Cricket Stadium. A couple of Indian friends tagged along with us Pakistanis to watch Pakistan play England. One of them, however, showed up to the game wearing an Indian cricket jersey, and some might say this was a means to mock us, although I believe it was out of good fun.

Yet, during the game, he cheered on the Pakistani team more passionately than most of us, and at one stage, he even raised a banner that read Pakistan Zindabad. This action could be dismissed as that of a naïve 17 year old being funny or simply trying to fit in. Looking back though, I realise that the action in itself was so powerful, that it truly expressed the respect and friendship that all of us had for one another and our people.

However, this does not mean that patriotism and nationalism are not important to these people. In fact, the competition and rivalry has always been intense, albeit healthy, amongst Pakistanis and Indians in Dubai.

Indo-Pak cricket games continuously ignite flair and patriotism; people regularly travel back to their respected countries and proudly express love for them through celebrations and events. The endless debates on Mumbai versus Karachi and Delhi versus Lahore are commonplace, along with the ‘battle of the foods’ (Hyderabadi Biryani or Sindhi Biryani) and so on.

Common tongue certainly adds to bridging the two peoples together. After all, colloquial Hindi and Urdu are very similar, although the Khaleeji variety of these languages has a hint of Arabic to it.

Words like Yalla (lets go, come on, hurry), khalas (finish), habibi (darling) and wallah (I swear) are used regularly when Indians and Pakistanis converse. Additionally, a large number of these people are fluent in Arabic, or at least have the ability to get by with the language.

These experiences and realities teach us some important lessons. Firstly, it is important to note for the common person on both sides of the border, that the existing hatred and contempt between the two peoples is and always will be a social construct. After all no one is born hating another being.

Additionally, this camaraderie and community-spirit go to show that these people, despite their supposed differences, have realised and understood the true essence of their similarities through their mutual culture, history and thought.

Therefore, it is safe to say that there does indeed exist a seed from a tree that once lived, waiting to sprout and grow into a fine flower of friendship, from within the soil of the subcontinent. And we can hope that one day it grows and blossoms in every backyard from Kerala to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, like its twin amazingly has in the desert metropolis of East Arabia - Dubai.