Pakistan and India should pursue a different kind of ‘love jihad’

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The issue of “love jihad” has become an issue in India again after the recent Supreme Court ruling that Hadiya, a Kerala woman who had converted from Hinduism to Islam and married a Muslim named Shafin Jehan, could remain with her husband.

Hadiya’s Hindu father had disapproved of the marriage, alleging that it was a case of “love jihad.” But Chief Justice Dipak Misra and his three-member bench said the couple were adults and hence must be given the right to make their own life choices.

What is love jihad?

Love jihad is one of the most popular yet controversial terms that have been introduced in India in the past decade. Some right-wing Hindus believe that it is a strategy devised by Indian Muslims to cast a love spell over Hindu girls. Under this spell, these girls are compelled to convert to Islam. It is alleged that the purpose of love jihad is to increase the Muslim population so as to turn India’s current Muslim minority into a majority.

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A United Hindu Front protest against love jihad in New Delhi in 2014.

But perhaps there is a different kind of “love jihad” that instead of dividing communities, could be extremely fruitful, and could be the right step taken by both India and Pakistan.

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Indian tennis star Sania Mirza and her husband, Pakistani cricket player Shoaib Malik.

It has been 71 years since the 1947 partition between India and Pakistan. But unfortunately, since their independence, they have never cherished a single moment of peace and friendliness despite being neighbors.

Because of this hatred and envy that have prevailed for more than seven decades, both countries have continued to strengthen their military defenses instead of focusing on issues that required immediate attention, such as poverty, unemployment and the lack of health and education facilities.

The Indian government allocates a big proportion of its budget for manufacturing and importing arms in order to establish its influence over Pakistan. Meanwhile Pakistan does the same in order to balance this influence. Consequently the population of both countries and their economies are paying the price day by day.

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Supporters of the Pakistan and India sides pose with their national flags during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup match between India and Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval in Australia on February 15, 2015.

How wonderful it would be if both countries implemented a kind of “jihad” to promote love and peace between them and gave up the goal of destroying each other. The budget reserved for defense would be available for public welfare. There would be trade across the borders. Pakistan would manufacture goods for hundreds of millions of Indians and Indian products would be available for Pakistanis. The millions of people sleeping on footpaths would find homes. Patients struggling for their lives in the corridors of the hospitals would start getting timely treatment.

The secret for the development of both countries lies in this philosophy of love jihad. If there were any rewards to be enjoyed from hate and envy, they would have shown up in the past 71 years.

Both countries may develop and prosper after implementing love jihad. If war is so necessary, than why should it not be waged against poverty, unemployment, ill health and illiteracy?

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