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Bring down Indo-Pak ‘Berlin Wall’
04-14-2010, 10:26 AM
Post: #1
Bring down Indo-Pak ‘Berlin Wall’
By Amar Guriro

KARACHI: Jaswant Singh, former Indian foreign minister and author of ‘Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence’ - a book that praises the founder of Pakistan and caused his expulsion from the Bharatiya Janata Party - said Tuesday that the “Berlin Wall” at the Pakistan-India border erected since the 1965 war should now be brought down.

“Masses on both sides of the border are longing to come close to each other, therefore, we must let go of the shadows of history and let the new dawn arrive. We must create a strong relationship with each other, otherwise the poverty on both sides of the border would not be wiped away,” said the veteran Indian politician at a press conference held prior to the launch of ‘Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence’ published by the Oxford University Press at the city’s historical landmark Mohatta Palace.

Singh recalled the painful moments of his life when the copies of his book were set on fire in India.

“A book is an author’s child and when it is set on fire, the author feels the same pain that someone feels if his or her child is on fire,” he said.

“I felt very sad that a small section of people who had not even read my book expressed their anger by setting it on fire, but otherwise I am satisfied with the popularity of the book, and people in both countries [Pakistan and India] have taken interest in it.”

Long before the formal launch of the book in Pakistan, its pirated versions were available in the country. In the book, Singh opines that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s centralised policy was responsible for the Partition and Jinnah was unnecessarily demonised by India.

Speaking about strict visa policies of Pakistan and India for each other, he said the people on both sides were suffering because of them.

He said thousands of people from the Sindh province had relatives in Rajasthan and other bordering states of India but were not issued visas.

“When a person living in the Thar desert wants to meet his relatives living only 30 kilometres away on the other side of the border, he has to travel 30,000 kilometres to get there, which is not fair. I belong to the Indian Thar of Rajasthan and who else could know this pain better than me,” he said.

He said he has always advocated removal of issuing visas on a city basis.

Talking about the US and North Atlantic Territory Organisation’s intervention in India and Pakistan’s mutual understandings, Singh questioned how could the waves of Atlantic reach the Himalayas.

“The US is around 8,000 miles away from Pakistan, whereas India is only eight minutes away, therefore the people of India and Pakistan must resolve their differences themselves.

When Singh was asked during the press conference about his efforts to pacify the situation before the Kargil War when he was the Indian foreign minister, he justified his intentions by pointing out that he had arrived in Lahore with then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in a bus for peace negotiations before the war started.

“Usually a prime minister does not travel in a bus to any other country, but he [Vajpayee] did it and before leaving Amritsar, Vajpayee had said that this bus was not made of iron and other material, but of emotions. Right after the bus yatra, the Kargil War began.”

The popularity of Singh’s book could be judged from the fact that it is being translated into Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Marali and even Bengali.

During the media briefing, he said that he was leaving it to the people of Sindh to translate his book into Sindhi.

During his stay in Pakistan, he would also launch his book in Islamabad and visit a Hindu religious place, the Hinglaj Mandir in Balochistan.
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