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"Waise hi khet, waise hi zameen"

"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)," avers Laloo Prasad Yadav, the Rashtriya Janta Dal supremo who is the latest entrant into the peaceniks club fostering closer Indo-Pak ties. Star attraction of the Indian delegation of politicians and journalists, he recounts his trip across the border into Pakistan.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2004 17:33 IST

"War does not help. War is no solution. Nobody wants war. It only brings death and destruction" avers LalooPrasad Yadav, thelatest entrant into the peaceniks club fostering closer ties betweenIndia 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, waisehi zameen (Similarfields, similar farms, similar trees, similarearth)." 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 berestored 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.

First Published: Jan 05, 2004 18:33 IST