Prayers from Pakistan: You will always live in our hearts, Sushma Ji
Unlike what many think, a large number of Pakistanis remember Sushma Swaraj as a compassionate, courageous leader who went out of her way to help those in distressUpdated: Aug 08, 2019 18:18 IST
Compassion can traverse every single man-made boundary and how! Former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s sudden demise following a cardiac arrest has left so many in Pakistan deeply pained. Putting aside political and religious affiliations, Swaraj’s countless fans took to Twitter to express their grief. Twitter showed her trending in Lahore, the city of her parents, as a large number of users sent her prayers.
We spoke to Swaraj’s fans from art, culture and media across Pakistan who have beautiful memories of her to share.
Deip Saeeda, 62, peace activist, Lahore
Swaraj’s parents hailed from Dharampura, Lahore. Deip Saeeda, 62, founder, Institute for Peace and Secular Studies, Lahore remembers her as one of the most humane, warm people she has ever met. “I had the good luck of meeting her twice in Delhi. She was so warm and affectionate. She told me that she loved my dupatta and the hand bag (a patch work thaila) that I was carrying. I told her that my mother had made this bag and that I could send one for her,” shares Saeeda.
Saeeda will always remember Swaraj as a ‘big-hearted’ politician who stood by those in distress, unconditionally. “We Pakistanis can’t thank her enough…she granted visas to so many who desperately needed medical treatment. I send lots of love to her family in this moment of grief. Prayers from all ailing Pakistanis she helped get treated,” says Saeeda.
Razi Baig, 26, engineer, Lahore
Razi Baig says he is deeply saddened by the news of her death. “We used to watch her political debates. She always stood for the masses. She will be missed. May be years later, people will tell their children stories of a kind-hearted, brave Indian woman who rescued stranded people and helped the needy across nationalities via Twitter,” says Baig. “She was truly a legend, she was the daughter of Punjab. Maawan dhiyaan sanjiyan hundiyan. (Mothers and daughters are inseparable),” he adds.
Raza Khan, 39, peace activist, Lahore
Another activist from Lahore, Raza Khan, 39, says he still can’t come to terms with her death. “I was very very shocked when I got to know about her demise. Her voice still echoes in my ears. A truly dumdaar female politician, her Twitter account was followed by so many Pakistanis who loved her. The selfless efforts she made for so many innocent children and the love that she got from Pakistan prove that humanity and compassion are universal emotions that no man-made border can ever wipe out,” he says.
Waseem Altaf, 55, writer, Islamabad
Writer Waseem Altaf says he admired her not just for being an able leader and an accomplished diplomat, but also a humanist. “She came to the rescue of so many Pakistanis at a personal level to get Indian visas on an urgent basis for their medical treatment in hospitals across India. It’s rare to see such kindness and sensitivity,” he says.
Rajesh Kumar, 28, peace activist, Hyderabad (Pakistan)
Rajesh Kumar felt heartbroken as he heard the news of her death. “She was one of most loved woman leaders of the region. She served her country with distinction and determination. For me and for thousands of Pakistanis, she was an epitome of love, compassion and humanity. She stood by so many Pakistani children who needed urgent medical care. Despite strained diplomatic relations between both the countries, her incredible efforts would make for a beautiful chapter in our history. We wish her a higher place in ‘swarg’. She was an inspiration for so many,” he says.
Murtaza Solangi, television host, Islamabad
Murtaza Solangi finds it incredible that Swaraj was somebody even common Pakistanis could reach out to. “There are countless families who benefited out of her extraordinary accessibility even in acrimonious times. As the minister of external affairs of India, she was just a tweet away, which is unbelievable. Today, when conflict and hatred is rearing its ugly head again, I and many Pakistanis are sad at her demise and truly appreciate her kindness to our people. I salute her humanitarian spirit,” he says.
Poonam Ayub, writer, Islamabad
Poonam Ayub met Swaraj only twice but the charismatic leader left a very strong impression on her. “I had always admired her. I felt very happy when I met her and we chatted a lot. I remember that she curiously asked me why was I named Poonam. I told her that thanks to my very charming and romantic father (Sartaz Aziz, economist and strategist) I was given that name, and she smiled and said that she couldn't agree more,” recalls Ayub fondly. She followed Swaraj’s inspirational journey through Twitter. “It was amazing how she always responded to those seeking help and added that personal touch despite being such a busy politician whose office was always flooded with requests. Such kind of empathy in a human being is very rare. She helped out so many young children in our country,” she says.
When Ayub read Swaraj’s last tweet on Kashmir, she was so very impressed that in spite of her ill health, she kept herself abreast of important developments. “I was in complete disbelief at the news of her sudden demise and burst into tears . This is one loss all of us in the subcontinent share and one which we will never be able to overcome,” says Ayub.