Volume - 3 : Issue - 2

Published : April - June 2004

Group : Issues


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Haseena Jethmalani, the wife of billionaire criminal lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani and a concerned activist by herself, writes this exclusive article for SINDHISHAAN on her return from the recent visit to Pakistan, where she lost her heart to the people of Pakistan. She, like every Indian, is thrilled about the atmosphere of warmth and brotherhood she experienced on the Pakistani soil, and feels the futility of hatred and wars should be known to every sane person on this earth.

Our fears were unfounded and anxiety kept at bay within the first few minutes of landing at the Karachi airport. We were welcomed warmly and most importantly without any prejudice. The immigration and security was professional and faultless. All around, we had Pakistanis with twinkling eyes and warm smiles greeting us as we walked out of the airport into the balmy Karachi breeze.

On the way to dinner, blaring Hindi music and a tourist guide escorted us to our hosts Mr. and Mrs. Amin Hashwani. Despite never having met before, their hospitality and graciousness remains unmatched. Once the curiosity of what the women are wearing and men are wearing was done with (!), there was a genuine sense of friendship, goodwill and feeling of bonhomie amongst all.

Finally, alone in my room later that evening, I was struck by the absurdity of rumours that had been floating around. Our ears and minds had been bombarded with false reports regarding our safety. This was further put to rest over the next two days especially at the cricket match. ‘Curse the tongue whence slanderous rumours like the adders drop, distils her venom, withering friendship’s faith, turning love’s favour’. What we heard and were now experiencing was chalk and cheese.

The cricket matches themselves are a historic event. And the one I was seeing was also part of the Historic event. But the spirit of friendliness of the people of Pakistan and India will usher a new era of international friendship between the two countries.  Never before had the Pakistanis and Indians shown such exemplary behaviour both on and off the field. While Shoaib Akhtar and Inzamam were definitely favourites, so was our very own Sachin baba, as his fans fondly know him. I am convinced that there is thousand times more goodness, wisdom and love in the land across the borders than we have imagined. No wonder that now the politicians have been reduced to being mere robots. It appears that the Indo-Pak problem has been a goldmine for the politicians only. Have we allowed ourselves to be deceived and deprived by people who claim to have sacrificed their very being for the country? What have even got in return? A sliding economy, bloodshed and Nuclear weapons! What has India ever gained and what has Pakistan ever won? Political gains may stir the deepest nature of one half of the nation, but they also pass above the heads of the other half. The scales are definitely tilting to the side of the other half.

Our last day was spent in Mohan-jo-Daro, a place close to my heart. Eager to see the historical marvel, the spontaneity of the people was just as marvellous. Several times, I have been asked to change my name and the only consideration for this is sadly because it is a beautiful Muslim name. I have always looked at people with not scorn or anger but with sympathy. A liberal, intelligent mind never reacts to words from an empty heart and the mind is questioned all together. For me a man’s name is not a mantle, which merely hangs about him and which one perchance may safely twitch and pull, but a perfectly fitting garment, which like the skin, has grown over him which one cannot rake and scrape without injuring the man himself.

As we made our way past Stupa, towards the great Bath, I was reluctantly asked a question in Sindhi by the guards. I blessed my now late maternal grandmother who only spoke Sindhi (and taught me too). I too replied back in my mother tongue, with pride and confidence. It was raining Sindhis thereafter. Pleas to come to have a meal, photographs with each other! The easy banter…I had finally come home and I was now feeling proud of my name and surname.

My personal experience was that both countries have been severely affected but the people are fed up and weary of their forefather’s excess baggage and just like us, they too want to move ahead.  My views on war are simple – There never has been good war or a bad peace, war is the business of barbarians and at the end of every war, every country is left with 3 armies – an army of mourners, an army of cripples, and an army of thieves.  Indian or Pakistani, my views were shared by all and I wasn’t surprised.  The consensus . . . . there are so many similarities and links between the two countries, is it possible to hate the people of the other country. . .  wouldn’t it be hating one’s own countrymen?

We met some wonderful, passionate and intelligent people at our gracious hosts’ Mr. & Mrs. Fakir’s resplendent home. The next day we were all fortunate to experience their warmth, sensitivity and kindness first hand. Just like little things afflict us, little thing console us – a smile, a hug, a look touched me in a way, I can only try in vain to express.  I don’t recall in recent times a more enjoyable evening spent away from my bed!

I would have loved to spend another couple of hours talking to Mrs. Fakir who interestingly knew several common friends from India as well as being born in Shikharpur, my father-in-law’s birthplace. A connection is never seen but always felt, and a feeling can never be told unless experienced.  She was a charming, brave lady and standing by her an intelligent husband and three loving sons. I wish them all the happiness and health. Hoping our next encounter is sooner than later - and in India.

A friend once said, “He alone has lost the art to live, who cannot win new friends”.  The two days in Pakistan, has taught us the art of living.

Before I pack my bags for Lahore, I can’t board the plane before thanking all the people in Karachi, (I can’t forget the Pakistani shopkeepers who insisted we have a drink and saved me from a low blood sugar attack) from the bottom of my heart.