In Pakistan, Rishi Sunak’s origin is another unfinished agenda of Partition

In city of wrestlers Gujranwala, a bunch of residents—including some pehlwans—came out to congratulate the British PM.

In a week when we can talk about the surprise debut of Pakistan’s spy chief on national television. Or the cricket controversy with Zimbabwe surrounding Pakistani Mr Bean. Or Indian media’s ‘happiness’ over former Prime Minister Imran Khan ‘exposing’ ISI and the Pakistani army, the week gone by has given us so much to munch. But I choose to focus on Gujranwala’s lost-now-found love for its pota or grandson, Rishi Sunak. The new prime minister of the United Kingdom is now among the million little things India and Pakistan want to fight over.

Rishi Sunak zindabad

In the city of wrestlers Gujranwala, a bunch of residents, including some pehlwans, came out to congratulate the British PM, who they didn’t know existed until now. He is a son of the soil, they say. With a poster inked ‘Rishi Sunak Pride of Gujranwala Pakistan’, these rather animated men raised slogans such as Gujranwala shehr ka pota zindabad, (long live the grandson of Gujranwala) and Rishi Sunak zindabad (long live Rishi Sunak.) One self-proclaimed biographer narrated how Sunak’s paternal grandparents left the city “and went straight to Kenya, without stopping anywhere.” He insisted that “wo pani peenay bhi nahin rukay Hindustan mein (they didn’t even stop to drink water in India),” securing the claim that Sunak’s heritage is only Pakistani. It’s a different matter that Gujranwala was in Hindustan at the time, as no lines were drawn for Pakistan. Sadda banda ae, Gujranwala da ae. Be warned, this fan jealousy is contagious.

During the celebratory hangout, we discover many unknown facts about the UK PM. Some of which even he wouldn’t know. Like, how at the age of four, Rishi Sunak’s teacher predicted he would do great things in life. And marrying a billionaire was that “great thing” he was destined to do, his newfound fans tell us. These wrestlers are proud of Sunak’s achievements, mainly because there is a man of Gujranwala fame who doesn’t have a “protruding belly.” Man-crush alert!

Indian or Pakistani

At this point, in the battle of claims, most of us don’t want to remember that Rishi Sunak is actually British. Or, for that matter, that he actually has to run another country. Tracing his lineage might not even be his 100th problem. The excitement is the same as laying claims on the Kohinoor and Basmati rice. Jo tera hai wo mera hai (What is yours is mine), but forgetting jab main tera tha (when I was yours) in this instance. Sample headline “Pak-origin Hindu becomes British PM”. Ok, sure, but how? Sunak’s ancestors left in 1935 but let’s fight on what was then India with no Pakistan in sight. Several wars later, Rishi Sunak’s origin is also an ‘unfinished agenda of the Partition’.

Indeed, Gujranwala is in present-day Pakistan. But we won’t get to read the headline, “Pakistan gets its first Hindu PM”, for Pakistan bars its Hindus or non-Muslim citizens from holding the highest public offices of prime minister or president. Let alone PM, the caretakers of temples and gurdwaras are also majority Muslim. Even the federal cabinet has no members from minority communities.

Conspiracy time

All time is good time for conspiracies. Like, what if as UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak sides with India on Kashmir? Or assertions like Pakistan should have Sunak in its corner for mediation with India. They think that this mediation might be as useful as the one former US president Donald Trump promised Imran Khan when India abrogated Article 370. We are not forgetting the 30-minute stand on Fridays.

That Sunak is seen as the ‘other’ conspiring against Pakistan is hardly surprising. Now, if former prime minister Nawaz Sharif cut a cake on Diwali in London, it was seen as his way of trying to appease a Hindu prime minister in the UK. Mind-numbing? Wonder if Jamaat-e-Islami distributing gifts on Diwali is for visa-free-arrival in the UK? Wait until they find out that Joe Biden has already called up Sunak, and there is even a video of it. The same video confirms that anyone dipping a biscuit in chai is a certified desi. Now the US president calling UK PM ‘Rasheed Sunook’ is no coincidence, had his family stayed in Pakistan Rasheed would have been his name today. Food for more conspiracies.

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