November 19, 2013

New Google ad highlights complicated India-Pakistan relationship

FT_india-greatest-threatLast week, Google released a new advertisement that tells an emotional story of two childhood friends separated in 1947 as Hindus mass migrated from Pakistan to India, and Muslims left India for Pakistan. Decades later, the friends are reunited with the help of their grandchildren and Google. Produced in the form of a short film, the ad has gone viral in the two countries with more than 4 million views.

The feel-good ad may be surprising to Western viewers, who are likely familiar with the two nations’ antagonistic relationship.

FT_pakistan-greatest-threatIndia and Pakistan have been divided by decades of political animosities, a nuclear arms race and several wars. Indians and Pakistanis see each other’s country as the biggest threat to their national security, according to Pew Research’s 2012 polls in the respective countries. When asked to choose the most serious threat to their country, 41% of Indians point to Pakistan. Among Pakistanis, 59% pick India.

But, as the video suggests, there are complicated cultural and historical ties that also run deep between the people of the two nations. In surveys, a majority of people in both countries say they want to improve relations with the other. Seven-in-ten Indians say it is important to improve ties with Pakistan. Among Pakistanis as well, a majority (62%) say that improving relations with India should be a priority.

Topics: Asia and the Pacific

  1. Photo of Neha Sahgal

    is associate director of religion research at Pew Research Center.


  1. Prabhat mishra3 years ago

    Very knowledgeable & interesting

  2. Sid4 years ago

    A war and nuclear arms race are purely political prerogatives. The peoples do not have any say in that. It is not even clear how much of a threat the two armies (or non-state players) actually pose to each other. But the common people who are untouched by the ambitions of the governments are willy nilly made to subserve the cause of the politicians by the raucous media building the apparent tension up to a crescendo. The tension, to my mind, is entirely a media creation. The popular perception among peoples about the other nation holding a threat is unfortunately the bitter fallout of this.

    The internet must be used to foster bonhomie between the peoples by exchanging ideas, movies, songs etc etc and to call the bluff of the politicians in both the countries who are taking their respective peoples for a royal ride, looting the countries and doing precious little for the uplift of the poor or any other development. If the peoples unite ideologically this fraud regarding ‘escalating tensions’ can be ended. The nuclear arms race is another way to divert the national wealth towards Defence Budget rather than spending that for education, unemployment, sanitation etc etc.

  3. Mark Gilchrist4 years ago

    Beautiful. Anyone know the English translation of the song lyrics?