Social media has been in turmoil today over a video that supposedly shows a Meerut police officer told a group of persons to “Go to Pakistan.” Unfortunately, the police personnel in question had been faced with a mob raising slogans of Pakistan Zindabad and possibly threatening to pelt stones.
Liberal commentators, left-wing propagandists and Islamist politicians have now seized upon these words to claim that law enforcement action by UP police is some kind of crackdown on dissent. They have been trying to draw comparisons with the worst excess and purges that happened under authoritarian regimes, ironically most of them leftist or Islamist.
However, taking words like “Go to Pakistan” literally shows a high level of cultural illiteracy among the intellectuals of India. And a refusal to understand the poetic metaphors used by common people on the street.
The expression “Go to Pakistan” must actually be read in the cultural context in which these words are said.
The word ‘Pakistan’ is used to refer to the proverbial enemy. This enemy could be anything. Like poverty or unemployment or untapped human resource potential.
So when the UP policeman told the group to “Go to Pakistan,” he was actually lamenting about how these folks are ruining their lives when they are led astray by unscrupulous politicians spreading misinformation against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
Thus, “Go to Pakistan” is a line that rebukes Indians who are not living up to their human resource potential. It is a nationwide slogan of resistance. That we will not fall for the devices of those who mislead us.
Do not communalize the words “Go to Pakistan.” It’s a poetic metaphor. And we all know that any kind of imagery, no matter how offensive, is automatically accepted as long as it is a metaphor.
Taking the expression literally would be culturally illiterate. And we would never want that, do we?