By Ali Tarab Rizvi (L&T S&L)
Author – Haroon Khalid
It has always been an intriguing subject for us Indians to imagine what life could be on the other side of the Radcliffe Line, in a country which was carved out on the basis of religious differences. Curiosity develops further when one finds so many similarities, culturally and linguistically; yet encounters differences, mentally.
Originally written as a series of articles for a weekly newspaper, A White Trail documents the lifestyle and struggles of the minorities (i.e., Hindus, Christians, Zoroastrians, Baha’is and Sikhs) in Pakistan. The author, through the various festivals, tries to explain the religious as well as the cultural rituals of each community and their efforts to amalgamate with the mainstream.
For instance, the celebration of Holi is described by relating it to Multan, symbolizing the mythological significance of the festival with the city. The book also records the experiences of Premjeet Singh (name changed), the first Sikh to have been commissioned in the Pakistan Rangers. It also directs attention towards the illegitimate use of Blasphemy Laws against the minority communities.
The author also explains the impression each community holds in the eyes of the majority and also, at instances, tells that how a few communities fared well as compared to others due to their political and historical neutrality.
This research majorly covers the diaspora located specifically in the Punjab province of Pakistan. As the author admits, the minority experience in Pakistan is fraught with danger. Hence, gathering such intrinsic and exhaustive details along with gaining the confidence of these communities was a big challenge.
Throughout the book, the author has maintained a positive approach towards understanding the various minorities and on a concluding note, hopes to shatter the stereotypes Pakistanis have about themselves and others about them.