Dismissing the `concept' that Indians and Pakistanis were `long lost brothers,' Pakistani author Mohammad Haneef today said he felt that the peoples in the two countries were very different.
"I hear this mantra--that Indians and Pakistanis are brothers--off and on. But I feel that we are very different people," Haneef said while speaking about his first novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes at the Kovalam literary festival that concluded today.
"We (India and Pakistan) might have had a shared history. But the way we interpreted the history is different," he said.
Haneef said one-fifth of Pakistan was now reeling under floods. "A mosque is blown up every day. Do you think Pakistanis are sitting there thinking about India? They don't have the time and mental space for that," he said, adding in a lighter vein, "get used to their indifference."
He said though many restrictions were there in Pakistan, there were no curbs on writing.
Later participating in a debate on the topic `Indo-Pak: Is there a way ahead,' Haneef felt that militaries in both the countries were killing their own people. "We do have some nuts among us. Similar people are on your side also. I don't know if there is a way forward," he said.
Former Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, who participated in the debate, said Pakistanis should come out of their `pretence of denial' which forced them to say that the people of the two countries were not very close.
"We have got a democratic set-up here and we have no stake in hostilities. In Pakistan, it is the military that controls matters and they have a stake in continuing hostilities," Tharoor said.
On India's contribution for Pakistan's flood relief operations, Tharoor said "considering the churlishness of the recipient, we were hugely generous."
Writers Deborah Baker, Amit Barua and eminent journalist Satish Jacob also took part in the debate.