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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

Jalandhar-born returns as former Pak acting president

Sanjeev Bhalla, Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, October 28, 2013
First Published: 20:02 IST(28/10/2013) | Last Updated: 20:06 IST(28/10/2013)

On his first visit to birthplace since Partition to discover his roots, Pakistan's former acting president Wasim Sajjad, 72, found the doors of his ancestral house here shut but saw a window open for bilateral peace.

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Born in 1941, Sajjad moved out of Jalandhar in 1945 but his father, justice Sajjad Ahmed Jan, kept working here until Partition and, later, rose to become Pakistan's supreme court judge and chief election commissioner.

On Monday, when Sajjad came to the locked doors of his house in Suraj Ganj locality here after 66 years, the neighbours told him the keys were with the owners, who were settled in Mumbai.

Octogenarian major general Tirath Singh (retd), who remembered Sajjad's going to court with his father, greeted him outside the street. Sajjad spent about 40 minutes in the locality, and tried to peep into his house from the adjoining roofs.

Senior deputy mayor Kamaljeet Singh Bhatia handed him a framed copy of his original birth certificate, which was scripted in Urdu.

Wants visa rules relaxed

His memory of the city is vague but, in his address earlier to lawyers, he was able to recollect some names from the past. "Many leaders on both sides have their roots in Jalandhar. Former Indian foreign minister Swaran Singh, during his visit to Paksitan, visited my house to meet my father," he said.

He advocated relaxed visa rules in the hope that it would increase cross-border interaction and that would help decrease the hatred between the two countries. "I will sell this idea in my country, as the lawyers here have pleaded me very strongly to do," said Sajjad. The district bar association honoured him in a special function.

He is a lawyer and legal educator who serving as interim president of Pakistan on two non-consecutive terms (July 1993 to November 1993; and 1996 to 1997).

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