A joint Independence Day celebration by UAE mums
Ladies from Pakistan and India at the UAE Mums' Indo-Pak Independence Day celebrations, at Sahara center in Sharjah on Sunday - Photo by M. Sajjad
Sharjah - A mix of expats from India and Pakistan sung the national anthems of both nations in a joint celebration
By Sarwat Nasir
Published: Sun 13 Aug 2017, 9:35 PM
Last updated: Sun 13 Aug 2017, 11:38 PM
A Pakistani expat in the UAE has brought together Indians and Pakistanis for the ninth year in a row, to mark both the countries' Independence days.
Hena Khan, founder of the Facebook Group UAE Mums, hosted a joint I-Day celebration. Independence Day for Pakistan and India falls on August 14 and 15, respectively. More than 70 members of the group, with almost 16,000 members overall, attended the event at Sahara Centre on Sunday. A mix of expats from both countries were present. They sung the national anthems of both nations and had a quiz round, where guests were tested on their knowledge of the subcontinental neighbours.
"We have been doing this for nine years. The concept is to bring the two together to send the message that even though we are divided into two countries, we are the same people," Khan told Khaleej Times. "We originated from the same place. We have our share of tensions but they are limited to the television only. We have the event every year to send a message that we are all one, regardless of what the politicians are doing at the borders. "In the nine years I've been doing this, there were times where there were political and military tensions between the two countries, but that didn't affect the relationship between Indians and Pakistanis in our group."
An Indian expat who attended the event, 25-year-old Priya Shetty, spent her entire life in India before moving to the UAE a year ago. She was overjoyed at the joint celebration. Residents in the UAE respect each other's beliefs, she believes. "This initiative by Hena is splendid. Often, the difference between Indians and Pakistanis is only in people's minds," Priya said.
"I've never experienced this in my home country. But people here have joined hands to celebrate together. Something like this was beyond my imagination, because in India people only celebrate our own Independence Day."
Pakistani expat Samar Jalil said that she has grown up among Indians in the UAE and does not feel any difference at all. "The tension between India and Pakistan is only at the borders. Abroad, we're all categorised as 'desis' rather than as Indians or Pakistanis. Together, we can really help each other grow and bring out the love," Samar said.