A Few Days in the Land of Buddha, Apostle of Peace

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I landed at Indra Gandhi International airport on February 2, 2001 by PIA flight PK-272. Seeing my green passport the immigration hounds of India were at me with a thousand and one interrogations. They were looking for one Ashraf Ali, a notorious terrorist, whose habitat is reported to be Nepal and Occupied Kashmir. I told them that I have been visiting India since 1996 for SAARC Conferences, and every time I meet the same unwelcome treatment for a welcome cause though. Next day, I along-with other members of the delegation left New Delhi for Nepal the very next day to participate in the 5th SAARC Economic Conference and Executive Committee meeting at Katmandu. It may not be out of place to mention that green passports even with SAARC stickers that allow them free movement in SAARC countries were also not spared the humiliation at the hands of the Indian immigration.

My return to Pakistan on 12th February was also most uncomfortable because of my name being Ali Ashraf Khan, had it been Ashraf Ali they would have arrested me straight away in spite of my credentials, when the Delhi Airport immigration officials tried to put words into my mouth, I had to tell them that no terrorist will ever accept before you that he is a terrorist and they are welcome to carry on their interrogations for days on end this will give me an opportunity to see more of Delhi and earn more experience to tell to the world the void between practice and professions in Indian administration under a successful democratic rule through the present advance Information Technology.

On my return from Nepal I had to be in New Delhi as the guest of Indian Council for South Asian Cooperation and India International Center to address a Seminar on South Asia’s Competitive Advantage, which I did. Being a politician myself of 25 years standing besides being a businessman in profession and Member of managing committee of apex trade body of Pakistan. I took this opportunity of my visit to India to meet a cross section of people in order to see some light in Indo-Pakistan relations.

I also had the opportunity of meeting an elderly politician on his invitation and also a very important member of Delhi Policy Group of India Habitat Centre. It may not be the general trend of Indian population but surely the politicians have their own eggs to grind. It was dinned into my ears that India is not prepared to repeat the mistake of partition again which was done in 1947; this is surely the view of an Indian politician today. Jai Parkash Narain, a very seasoned elderly and sincere statesman of India once saw some school boys celebrating victory of cricket match over their arch enemy Pakistan. Jai Parkash Narain is the man who was even offered the Presidentship of India, which he refused. When he saw these boys celebrating this victory, he rushed to meet Indian Prime Minister Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru to tell him not to let this sapling of enmity grow. As partition of India was according to an agreed formula, the friends of yesterday could not be termed as enemies today, this was the vision of a statesman not a politician and this vision is needed even today and will be needed even tomorrow.

The politician’s view as projected to me sounded the same as vivisection of the cow or dismemberment of Bharat Matta. Our Indian friends do not realize that India was never the same geographical unit, even during the days of Ashoka, whose chakra is the government of India’s emblem. It was the British, who concocted the political structure of India, which consisted India, Ceylon, Burma, Aden and Trucial States. Burma was made a separate entity, Indian leaders did not cry, Ceylon was separated from India, the Indian leaders did not raise any voice, Aden and Trucial States went out of the control of India, no voice was raised. How Bharat Matta is now at stake? When the areas having the majority population of Musalmans is given over to them to rule, these are the hard facts of history which Indians leaders must realize and not harp on Hindu Chauvinism.

So far as Kashmir is concerned or for that matter any part of the world is concerned, it is the law of God é land belongs to the son of the soil, land has never belonged to the holders of guns and turrets. I would appeal to the makers of history to read history. Our Indian friend has harped on the tune of not repeating the mistake of 1947, but what has he to say to the blunder committed by the founding father Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, when he refused to give two cabinet seats to Muslim League in United Province after 1937 elections at that time he was intoxicated with power emanating from the absolute majority of the congress. If Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru had taken a leaf out of Egypt’s book where Zaghlool Pasha signed a blank paper and gave it to the Christians in return of their support to Zaghlool Pasha support for Independence. The history of India would have been entirely different, so partition is not an anathema, not to be repeated. If another partition, which at all is a partition, brings about peace and tranquility in South Asia, it is worth it, it will afford an opportunity to nuclear bomb producing nations to produce wealth for the respective nations.

Lord Buddha was a prince by descent born with a silver spoon in Kapilavastu in Northern India. He was deeply affected by the miseries and violence around him. One fine morning while he was driving in his chariot, he saw a leper lying on the road. He ordered his chariot driver to pick him in his own royal cart, the chariot driver replied as to how many persons he is going to pick up as he will come across a large number of them on the road on his drive. Lord Buddha, then Prince Buddha was deeply affected, he renounced his state, his royal titles and went into the jungles in search of peace and nirvana, he found nirvana ultimately in Gaya, a town in the state of Bihar. Such is the history of Buddha, which the founding father of India Mahatma Gandhi emulated and declared Ahinsa Prammu Dhrama the creed of non-violence. It is a pity that the Hindu fundamentalist could not follow the precepts of Lord Buddha and the creed of their own Bapu, who himself was a victim of a revolver bullet from a Hindu fundamentalist. Thus a votary of non-violence met a violent death in India. It is time now that the politicians in India read and re-read history of India starting from before Christ down to the killing of Mahatma Gandhi and learn a lesson not only to preach peace but to practice peace, chauvinism never pays and it has never paid. India by the grace of God is in a position to spread the gospel propounded by their forefathers. 21st Century is going to be the precursor of millennium for peace and technology rather than technology for war which may end up into a holocaust which may be the day of judgment, let us not rise on our own false sense of prestige.

Frank Moraes, a noted biographer and admirer of Jawahar Lal Nehru could not justify the Indian Prime Minister’s stand on Kashmir, all he could say is that Kashmir being the birth place of Jawahar Lal Nehru has become an article of faith with him. The Kashmir Prime Minister Shaikh Abdullah, when he tried to be autonomous, he was put in jail by his life long friend Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru for ten years. When Jawaharlal Nehru realized his position in history, he released Shaikh Abdullah and sent him to Rawalpindi to strike a deal with the President of Pakistan Field Marshal M. Ayub Khan, ill luck as it would have it, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru died and Shaikh Abdullah had to return post haste to India. Now his son adorns the Chief Ministership of occupied Kashmir, but only as a puppet, he is no match to his father and so marks time in the so-called government of Kashmir, which runs from New Delhi.

Instead of building up tanks, bombs and military hardware. Let Asia build up economic power which is going to rule the roost in the new millennium and not be subservient to Euro-American bloc for petty gains on Kashmir, which in the final analysis is going to serve more the American master than the people of India.

The prosperity of India has been mostly because of their dependable allies and in order to turn the gains into property, it is necessary now to forge greater unity in the region rather than holding only seminars. Indian economy is on the rise and let it rise and not let it be wasted on competitive production of nuclear energy.

As I walked in the bazar’s of Delhi’s notable Connaught Place and Karol Bagh, they are full of goods, full of people, full of love. People from Jehlum, Sargodha, Chakwal, Rawalpindi, Chaniot, Sailkot and Lahore talk to me about their days spent in their homes before they became aliens, but mind and thoughts are never aliens, they are the same and will remain the same.

An example of love and affection and fraternity is found in the earthquake of Ahmadabad, a temple was the object of dispute between the Hindus and the Muslims. The Musalmans worked selflessly to rescue their fellow brethren from the debris of the earthquake. The Hindus were so much affected by this act of love and fraternity on the part of the Musalmans that they offered the Temple to the Muslims to be used as a Mosque, this was printed in a Pakistan’s Urdu newspaper. A dry well started giving sweet water in Ran of Katch area in India, as was published in leading English newspaper of Delhi in an article ” River Indus is returning.” Love and fraternity is the need not only of the hour but it is the need for the survival of mankind.

I have just received on my return from India an e-mail from an Indian Christian who lives in United States and writes as follows ” hello, you seem like an intelligent person but you live in the past. Forget all these wars between Hindus and Muslims and all that. Religion is just a philosophy. The reality is that Indians and Pakistanis are some of the most hardworking and intelligent people in the world. I live in the US and in this environment, people from India and Pakistan pray to their Gods and have a comfortable existence. Unfortunately in India and Pakistan, more Pakistan and you can’t deny it, get sucked into this religion. We are the same people. Open your eyes. Who does it benefit when we waste our resources fighting each other? The Chinese, Japanese and the white people. These people look at India and Pakistan with contempt. They make fun of our countries because we are poor. Just because the Chinese and Americans give Pakistan money and weapons, THEY DON’T LIKE YOU. THEY ARE USING YOU. – Peace. Jimmy sits.” This is my message to Indian leaders also, not to live in the past, but to face the present and try to build up a new South Asia.

Mr. Ali Ashraf Khan is a Pakistani Businessman and Ex-Politician who bid good bye to politics in order to concentrate on more useful service benefit of the political intrigues prevalent in the National Political life of Pakistan. He frequently writes for English and Urdu newspapers in Pakistan.

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