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‘All we want is to know each other’

india Updated: Jan 22, 2009 23:58 IST
Renuka Narayanan
Renuka Narayanan
Hindustan Times
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What do Pakistanis want from India post 26/11? Some members of a delegation of 21 leading lights of Pakistani civil society tried to answer the question informally between public sessions in a day-long event in New Delhi on Thursday, organized by several cross-border friendship groups.

“All we want is to meet Indians, for us to get to know each other and understand each other,” said Munoobhai, a senior Pakistani journalist.

A columnist for 55 years with Pakistan’s leading Urdu newspaper — the column is called Girebaan — The Daily Jang, Munoobhai said, “The tide has turned. The regular Pakistani does not hate India or Indians anymore. He wants us to be friends and good neighbours.”

What wrought this miracle? “In the 62 years of Pakistan’s existence, 33 years have been under direct military rule and indirect rule has been there also. We’ve fought four wars and it has brought us only sorrow — bhookh, bimaari aur jahiliyat (hunger, disease and ignorance).

“Change has come to Pakistan, secular soch (thought) has begun. Nobody wants war. They want dialogue and progress,” he said.

“It’s ironic that my painting and that of Indian painter Arpana Caur hang in the Bradford museum in England... They acquired my wall-sized work that maps South Asia, Zone of Dreams. I painted clouds over Kashmir since I didn’t want to carve it up in my map,” said Salima Hashmi, daughter of poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Added senior Indian journalist Kuldip Nayyar, “An Indian delegation wants to visit Pakistan in February to keep the dialogue going.”