Can we be friends?
Why not? After all we have a common bond to share
HARMONY BY AMIT KUSHARI
Many times I have stood at the Indo- Pak border at Suchetgarh (R.S. Pura) and looked beyond the gate that divides the two nations. I have also admired with awe the huge tree which is located right on the border--half of it falling in Pakistan and half in India. The tree probably does not realise the strategic importance of her location. I have often wondered, with a pain in my heart, why can't I drive into Sialkot and Lahore with ease and enjoy the warm hospitality of the Pakistanis who are famous for their "mehman nawazi". Similarly I have stood at the Indo- Bangladesh border and looked at the Kushtia district on the other side. However, since the hostilities in the east are far less than in the west, I could easily drive through the border and take lunch at the bungalow of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Meherpur sub division of Kushtia district. The officers of the district showed a lot of courtesy to me and showered their hospitality. I was District Magistrate of Nadia district (West Bengal) and I had gone there to discuss border thefts and crimes. The atmosphere was so cordial and friendly there--everybody speaking in Bengali ---- we hugged each other and forgot that we belonged to different nations. My father had been posted as S.D.M. Meherpur in 1942-43 and everyone seemed to remember him with affection and wanted to know whether he was still alive. An elderly office peon came forward with great enthusiasm and told me, " I was Mr. Kushari's bungalow peon. When you go back to Kolkata please tell Sahab and Memsahab (my parents) that Fazlur Rehman is as poor today as he was in 1943. The formation of Pakistan had not helped me in any way". These words really moved my heart and I could understand the futility of dividing this great country into three parts. Similar sentiments were echoed to me by one Khurshid Ahmed ( resident of Sialkot ) when he grasped my hands at the border checkpost at Suchetgarh. He said that he had brought his children here so that they could have a glimpse of India lying beyond the check post.
India had to be trifurcated due to mistrust between Muslims and Hindus which existed for centuries. Hindus always considered Muslims as "parayas'' or foreigners and never accepted them in their social fold.On the other hand, the Muslims considered Hindus as lowly Kafirs who needed to be converted to Islam. Ultimately we separated and we are now foreigners to each other. Now we have to respect each others' sovereignty . But that doesn't mean we cannot be best of friends and visit each other at will without any obstruction. Why can't we travel unfettered to each other's territories without a strict visa regime? The problem of Kashmir always casts its shadows over Indo-Pak relations. Since there is no such Kashmir like problem in the east the Indo-Bangla relations are much better and relaxed. Whenever attempts are made to improve relations, Kashmir appears as a thorn in the flesh. Pakistanis have a very deep grievance against India because India does not agree to hand over at least the Muslim majority areas of J&K to Pakistan- and always dodges the issue in every way. Moreover, India, unfortunately for them, is a militarily powerful nation that cannot be defeated in a direct war. They are so frustrated that their government has taken a decision to bully India. Pakistan cannot bring the 26/11 attackers to justice. How can they? The attackers are Pakistan's own. Indians feel outraged by this. However, Indians must realise the depth of great pain which the Pakistanis nurture in their hearts due to the Kashmir issue. I tell my friends in Kolkata---"to understand the grievance of Pakistan you must close your eyes and concentrate on an imaginary situation like this------the king of Gujarat, was a Muslim who in 1947, merged Gujerat with Pakistan. 50 million Gujarati Hindus became citizens of Pakistan. Pakistan being a powerful country India is unable to retrieve Gujarat from Pakistan militarily. How would India feel in such a situation? Wouldn't they feel extremely aggrieved? Wouldn't India also unleash terror on Pakistan in such a situation? If we want good relations with Pakistan we must be able to appreciate and understand Pakistan's great agony. Therefore we must come to terms with Pakistan by peaceful negotiations. The true representatives of Kashmiri muslims will also have to be called in those negotiations. Due care has to be taken to ensure that the Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists of J&K stay firmly with India. If India agrees to grant a highly autonomous status to the muslim areas of J&K (within the political map of India) Pakistan has to be reassured by India that Pakistanis will have visa free access to this highly autonomous territory of Kashmir. Pakistan will also have to assure India as a reciprocal gesture that Indians will have visa free access to Pak administered part of Kashmir. After all we would also like to visit the tourist destinations of Gilgit, Baltistan and Muzaffarabad.
(Amit Kushari is former Financial Commissioner J&K. The author can be contacted at 09748635185 or firstname.lastname@example.org )
Lastupdate on : Sat, 2 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 2 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 3 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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