‘Jammu born Pakistanis eagerly await opening of borders’
8 February 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: All those families who had crossed over to Pakistan during 1947 Partition are eagerly awaiting opening of road links between two countries so that they can visit Jammu. According to Khalid Hussain, the only delegate from J&K to attend the World Punjabi Conference at Lahore, and who had the oppurtunity to meet many earstwhile Jammuites, says that 'for elders, it is a hope to to see once again the land of their birth while for the generation born in Pakistan it will be an opportunity to visit the land of their ancestors'. Honoured to be the only Muslim among the 143 strong Indian delegation for the World Punjabi Conference which was held in Lahore from Jan 29 to Feb 1, Khallid Hussain, well known Punjabi writer of the sub- continent hails from Mohalla Ustad, Jammu. Talking to EXCELSIOR Khalid Hussain gave a telling description of his meeting with Pakistanis who originally belonged to Jammu. 'They were hugging, embracing, touching me as if I was not a mere mortal of bones and flesh but a piece of their motherland- Jammu. Unashamed of the tears that expressed myriad emotions, they asked me about Pacca Danga, Dhaki Sarajan, Pir Mittha. Some remembered their native villages of R.S. Pura Tehsil. Some asked about their Hindu friends and other sundry details. These were not merely innocuous little inquiries but as if they were seeing Jammu through my eyes.' 'Be it Dr. Zulifikar Kazami, whose ancestors hailed from Badyal Kazian, R.S. Pura, Tariq Masood, Aiyaz Masood or the septagenarians like Razia, Fehmida from Jammu- all wanted to know more and more about their motherland. Infact Niyaz Kazami, who is the leading actor in Punjabi play Bullah, after coming to know that I was from Jammu, broke down completely', said Khalid Hussain. Giving a glimpse of love and longing of those Muslim families who had migrated to Pakistan from Jammu during Partition, Khalid Hussain hopes that the recent thaw in Indo-Pak relations will certainly open opportunity for people to people contact. From the hearty reception of the Indian delegation which included writers, singers, artistes, media personalities, businessmen and others, at Wagha border by a cultural troupe along with six ministers of Pakistani Punjab State Govt., a warm feeling of welcome was seen every where we went, said Khalid Hussain. 'May it was our visit to the Mazar of Bulleh Shah, Harappa, Sahiwal in Montegumri dist. or Lahore’s Anarkali Bazar, Gwal Mandi-every where people thronged around us as if we were their long lost brethren. 'Shopkeepers refused to take money from us. Infact they vied with each other to be our hosts.'. Organised by the initiative of Fakhar Zaman, the Indian delegation to the World Punjabi Conference was led by Arminder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab. The three day conference was addressed by Manjoor Elahi, chief minister of Pakistani state of Punjab. The conference in which it was clearly brought home that India and Pakistan are two sovereign countries and the only pragmatic approach would be to accept it and devise ways and means so that misgivings due to last 55 years of political developments can be set right by increased people to people contacts. It was also resolved in the Conference that Punjabi literature being produced in two countries be made available in transcriptions from Gurmukhi to Shamukhi and vice versa. And the knowledge of Gurmukhi be made compulsory of post graduate students of Punjabi in Pakistan and similarly Shahmukhi be made compulsory for Indian students of Punjabi. Respected for his life long stance that culture knows no barriers, Khallid Hussain is called as ‘bridge’ between the Indian and Pakistani Punjabs. Especially for his contributions to the Punjabi literature not only in terms of his short stories with an emphasis on shared cultural bonds but playing a leading role in getting transcribed Punjabi literature produced in Gurmaukhi to Shahmukhi and vice versa. He is a happy man that his life long wish that Punjabis from both sides develop an empathetic understanding through exchange of literature is finally coming through. Khalid says the resolution in the Conference to set up memorials in Pakistan for Bhagat Singh and Lala Lajpat Rai, and other recommendations have opened new fronts for respecting historic commonalties. He hoped when ‘people’ from both sides, are eagrly waiting to renew the lost cultural links, the respective government will keep up the new political initiatives. So that an atmosphere is created where one can come and go from India to Pakistan as is the case with Nepal or between U.S.A. and Canada.