A saga of cross border friendship
A journey of life
By M.M. Sethi
It was my mother'surge to get back to her homeland, now in Pakistan, at least once. But this was never fulfilled. Thank God, it is during the tenure of General Musharraf that I have been able to honour my mother'slast wish. How relaxed I felt on April 3, 2005, when I touched the soil of my mother'sbirthplace.
An unknown Muslim family of Islamabad played host to me. Javed, Sayeeda, Usman, Omar, Aisha, Sara, all were too good during my two-week stay at their house. Javed Sahib, Sayeeda and Omar gave me a comfortable lift in their car from Islamabad to my native village Nara and back the same day. Distance to and fro of 300 kms was covered. Javed Sahib and Sayeeda also took me to Taxila by their car. Gandhara, Greek, Buddha and Jain civilizations were witnessed there. What a historic ancient research! To me, it will remain a treasure.
Javed and Sayeeda then took me to Faisal Masjid in Islamabad. This is a remarkable gift by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan. I wished I could daily visit this holy abode of Allah for worship at night when I am face-to-face all alone with God. Anyway, I will try to reach here everyday from India. I know this is practically impossible, yet spiritually none can debar me. My host then took me to Shakkar Parian garden, the best picnic spot of Islamabad.
The best in Pakistan is newly built capital, Islamabad. The best built up is network of motorway on which luxury buses ply at a high speed of 150 kms/hr. The late night scenery of illuminated Islamabad will remain memorable for me.
The best in Pakistan is newly built capital, Islamabad. The best built up is network of motorway on which luxury buses ply at a high speed of 150 kms/hr. The late night scenery of illuminated Islamabad will remain memorable.
The worst in Pakistan is railway, as outdated as 1947, even worse of what Britishers had left as a legacy. What a pity to see the disgusting railway stations of Lahore and Rawalpindi.
Safai karamcharis, with yellow dress, were found on duty on Islamabad roads since early morning. Excellent gardens, especially Shakkar Parian of Islamabad, are praiseworthy. Since women and children outings are very much less marked as compared to India, hustle and bustle at picnic spot lacks. Women education and their freedom in Pakistan need to improve on Indian pattern.
Policing and law and order situation is commendable feature of Pakistan. Discipline in schools is also good. I visited a boy'sschool of my host. I was told that all the students are required to enter the school and leave only in a queue on the prescribed brickwork path. No haphazard entry/exit is permitted.
Food markets are very popular in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. It must be so in Lahore and other big cities too. Pakistanis love to patronize these food markets in the evenings and late nights. People'shospitality, especially for Indians, was quite marked. It laid to rest all our apprehensions prior to our entry into Pak territory. We moved freely and safely.
Indian films are very popular in Pakistan. On our journey, to and fro, Lahore to Rawalpindi, the executive buses had Indian movies on. Indian TV channels are also a subject of big craze. Pakistani movies are lagging far behind. People of Pakistan are very keen to visit India. They maintain that India is far advanced as compared to Pakistan. Moreover, they yearn for historical placed in India especially Taj Mahal, Durgah at Ajmer, Red Fort in Delhi, Jama Masjid, Qutub Minar, Humayun'sTomb, Nizamuddin Dargah, etc.
Taxila excavations are in progress. This is good sign that government of Pakistan is keen to preserve Hindu civilization also without religious bias. This will help tourism to flourish. Katas Raj, a Hindu place of pilgrimage, needs care. Nankana Sahib and Panja Sahib Gurudwaras are well maintained. I personally visited the latter to find that Muslims of the town doing all the cleaning of this Sikh shrine with devotion. Langar is on. The trust is run by the local Muslims. A good gesture of tolerance by believers of Islam.
My visit to Indo-Pak Friendship Forum, Human Rights Commission, Faisal Masjid, Khwaza Masood, ex-Principal, Gordon College, Rawalpindi House in Islamabad were eventful experiences.
Indian films are very popular in Pakistan. On our journey, to and fro, Lahore to Rawalpindi, the executive buses had Indian movies on. Indian TV channels are also a subject of big craze.
On top of this a visit to B. Murlidhar Reddy'shouse in Islamabad, where we performed puja with Aparna Srivastav, Murlidhar'swife, will always be remembered. We were invited to tea by the family, Mr Reddy represents The Hindu daily. Shri Reddy is the paper'sspecial correspondent in Pakistan, who was introduced to me by Shri Yash Paul Narula, Dy. Editor of The Hindu, New Delhi.
Surprisingly, this family is living under round the clock police observation at the main gate of their residence. They cannot move in Islamabad beyond Islamabad city!
My meeting with Khawaja Masud, former Principal, Gordon College, was most interesting. He is a liberal Muslim. At the age of 82, he is quite fit. He lives alone with a cook in a very spacious residence, which is very well furnished. The library shelves are adorned with the Quran, the Bible, the Gita and the Ramayan. Statues of Buddha, pictures of Lord Krishna, cross of Jesus Christ are all there in his drawing room.
Much against my wishes, I had to cut short my visit to Pakistan to a fortnight only, although my visa was valid for 30 days. I wish I could attend many more Indo-Pak friendship programmes in Islamabad.