On average, a person living in Pakistan would argue endlessly for granting the right of self-determination to Kashmiri’s, and to grant them their voice that has been lost after the independence of both India and Pakistan. However, in some cases, it is nothing more than lip-service and the recent harassment of a student from Kashmir shows that bigotry is not so easily removed from the minds of those that see the world in black and white. His only crime, to the eyes of his aggressors, was that he came from the disputed area in Kashmir, and hence was branded an ‘Indian spy’.

Let’s get some things straight. For starters, contrary to popular opinion in this country, there is nothing wrong with being an Indian. Our neighbors are much like us, and have the same dreams, aspirations and fears that everyone else in this world does. The dehumanization of the ‘enemy’ is the statesman’s oldest trick in the book, and it seems to have worked brilliantly in Pakistan. Being born on a particular side of an imaginary line does not make someone fundamentally evil. Nor does it mean that we must automatically hate everyone who ever lived on Indian soil. That would mean that all of us are just as bad, considering our two countries were once a unified whole, and our ancestors used to refer to themselves as Indians before 1947.

Furthermore, the integration of Kashmir into Pakistan, a dream most of us profess to have, means nothing if this is the way people plan on treating anyone from the area. What’s the point of hoping for that endpoint, if we make every Kashmiri an outsider the minute they step on Pakistani soil? Those who used this banter against the student should be ashamed of themselves. Igniting old prejudices for self-serving purposes is abominable, considering that so much is at stake. The individual being harassed is obviously affected adversely, but thoughtless actions such as this also lead to graver consequences, such as poisoning the overall mindset of the community. Our society does not need a more skewed perspective on things, and in order to undo the damage already wrought, actions such as this should be taken note of by the government, and the perpetrators be punished, in order to have a society that welcomes new members with open arms instead of shunning them.