"Waise hi khet, waise hi zameen"
"War does not help. War is no solution. Nobody wants war. It only brings death and destruction" avers Laloo Prasad Yadav, the latest entrant into the peaceniks club fostering closer ties between India and Pakistanindia Updated: Oct 08, 2005 02:36 IST
"War does not help. War is no solution. Nobody wants war. It only brings death and destruction" avers Laloo Prasad Yadav, the latest entrant into the peaceniks club fostering closer ties between India and Pakistan. This Rashtriya Janta Dal supremo, Laloo was the star attraction of the Indian delegation of politicians and journalists at a seminar organised by the South Asian Free Media Association between August 9-11, 2003 in Pakistan.
Just like home
"My visit was not political. I had gone there in my individual capacity to help cement closer ties between the two nations by ensuring people-to-people contact," he asserted.
"I did not feel like being in a foreign country. Waise hi khet, waise hi khalihan, waise hi bargad, waise hi zameen (Similar fields, similar farms, similar trees, similar earth)." Laloo says that India and Pakistan share a common history and there are no differences between the two. "The Pakistani cities looked like Patna City, Punjab and New Delhi to me," he recalled.
People do not want violence and war
His message is simple: "No hatred and no violence." Ironically, for a man charged for long with ruling a lawless Indian state by proxy, chanting the 'no violence' mantra nowadays comes naturally to him. But then, the Bihar strong man insists that he swears by it.
In Assam, he asked fellow Biharis not to take law into their hands in the face of widespread violence last month and during his recent spat with Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, he offered makkhan (butter) in exchange for gobar (cowdung).
"When I went to Pakistan, I met a cross section of people there. I did not meet anyone who wanted war. Instead, everybody wanted peace," reminisced Laloo. "India and Pakistan have fought many a war, which have brought only destruction on both sides."
Laloo insists it is high time the governments of both the nations buried the hatchet, once and for all, for the sake of their awam (people). He says that the ongoing peace process between the two traditional rivals is a welcome step, which must continue. "We embarked on many peace journeys in the past, but they invariably met roadblocks in the end," he added.
Laloo insists it is high time the governments of both the nations buried the hatchet, once and for all, for the sake of their awam (people). He says that the ongoing peace process between the two traditional rivals is a welcome step, which must continue.
"India and Pakistan should continue to strengthen their friendly relations. Their cultures, problems and aspirations are the same. Even their future is linked together," he said. "I had told President Musharraf that the air, road and rail links ought to be restored at the earliest so that the people of the two countries separated from each other due to Partition could stay in touch with one another," he recalled.
Demolish 'this Berlin wall of hatred'
"I also told him that cross-border terrorism must be stopped since the awam of both the nations hanker after peace and peace alone."
Laloo, who was allowed by the Supeme Court at the eleventh hour to visit Pakistan due to pending fodder scam cases, returned as a veritable apostle
of peace after he interacted with the common man of Pakistan on the streets
of Lahore and Rawalpindi.
No wonder, he now stresses that more than the governments of both the nation, it is the people who will demolish the "Berlin Wall of hatred" between them.
"When I set out for Pakistan journey, my daughter Ragini told me to be careful. This is the mindset of the average children in our country. A sense of fear has been inculcated in their minds. But when I went there, I found hundreds of children carrying placards advocating for peace. I met scores of other people during my visit. None of them wanted war," he stated.
Bihar ka badshah and Akbar mian
Laloo, who was called "Bihar ka Badshah" (King of Bihar) by the Pakistani media, remembers how he ran into a septuagenarian Akbar Mian on the streets of Lahore who cried on his shoulders.
"He owned 50 acres of land in India before he had to leave everything behind due to Partition and settle down in Pakistan."
He also now emphasises that there are still many people like Akbar Mian on both sides of the border who long for going back to their roots. "Another elderly woman who belonged to Bihar also met me and told me that I was doing great work."
Of paan and potatoes
"I also visited the main market in Rawalpindi. I enquired about the rates
of potato among other things. The newspapers in Pakistan splashed photographs of mine with a big potato in my hand. Wherever I went, I was greeted with open arms."
In fact, given my popularity in Pakistan, General Musharraf and some politicians remarked that I would win any election from there," he said. "But for that we will have to exchange our Constitution," he had quipped.
"I accepted a gift" a piece of special cloth -- from a man in a market in
Islamabad who insisted that I take it as a token of love and brotherhood.
He told me that he had been watching me on television. I also went out in search of paan (betel) after I ran short of my stock. When I complained that they were too costly, someone informed me that they were being imported from our country," he chuckled.
And then the Mazaars and gurudwaras
"I also visited Data Saheb Mazaar in Lahore from where I brought the rose petals to be distributed here. I was amazed to see some temples and gurudwaras in Pakistan. Nowhere did I see any remains of a demolished shrine," he remarked in a veiled reference to the Babri mosque demolition.
He says that the pujari (priest) of the temples may not have been around,
but the structure of the temples remained intact.
Laloo, however, has a word of caution for both the nations. "India and
Pakistan have to foster closer ties under the present global scenario. If
they do not, the big fish (the USA) is waiting in the wings to gobble them
up. India and Pakistan should draw a lesson from Iraq.
Unite before we perish
There is a need for greater unity among the smaller nations to fend off the threats of bigger nations," he advised. "The smaller nations should make a mahajal (huge net) to catch the big fish like the USA. If they do not unite, they will perish."
He, however, insists that his Pakistan visit was not the last goodwill
mission on his part. "My visit to Pakistan was just the beginning. I will
continue my mission. I can even go to Afghanistan, Gulf or any other
country to preach the message of peace." If only he could ensure that in his home state!