Charnjit Singh Bal
I am elated to read the reconciliatory comments, proposals and gestures of the Indian and Pakistani leaders in the Tribune India, dated 9th January 2006. These purposed initiatives to boost commercial trade and enhance travel facilitations across the borders of the two namesake states of East Punjab in India and West Punjab in Pakistan, carved out of pre-partition glorious greater Punjab, have transformed my dreams to hopes.
Maybe because I was born and lived my impressionable childhood years in the harmonious cultural and socio-religious society including Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus in pre-partition united Punjab, ever since my adolescence I have dreamed that someday, somehow, someone or divinity would restore Punjab and its cultural and socio-religious harmony to Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s glorious era.
Perhaps because of such nostalgic sentiments that I mustered enough courage, after having lost an opportunity to meet the Pakistani Naval Fleet team because it had failed to turn up and play a field hockey game with the Indian Fleet team, to visit a Pakistani Naval Destroyer anchored at Trincomalee, Sri-Lanka, in 1959 during the Commonwealth naval exercises.
Maybe because of my pluralistic Sikh orientation I have further dreamed that someday, somehow Indian sub-Continent, that was trifurcated because of the political shenanigans and intrigues of the independence-era’s seditious internal and forces, would be reconstituted into a common wealth, Confederation or Grand Union of autonomous states of Indian Sub-Continent.
Ajit Weekly columnist Sayyad Assif Shahakar of Stockholm, Sweden, Miän Fäkher Zamän a prominent writer, International Punjabi Congress Chairman and former Minister and Akhter Hussain Punjabi Professor, Anglo-Punjabi College, Lahore and Punjabi Magazine Lehrän founder who have been constant advocates and promoters of rustic Punjabi arts, culture, language and joint social festivities, have sustained my dreams.
It is said ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. To even an average person like me the purported benefits from enhanced trade and travel facilitations between the bifurcated Punjab are just a token of potential benefits accruing from reconciliation and eventual reunion of peoples of Indian Sub-Continent.
Such notions are not surreal or farfetched. The peoples of Germany and Vietnam have already set the precedents for the nations fragmented by seditious, secessionist or subversive internal forces and/or external powers. Although the leaders usually play crucial roles in furcating or reuniting nations, religions, races, societies or communities, there are numerous instances in history when peoples have changed their destinies.
Now that the visionary leaders on both sides of India and Pakistan, especially across Punjab border, have started the reconciliatory dialogue, let us hope that the peoples too will participate in lowering divisionary barriers put up by the zealous and seditious forces. Having had opportunities to meet and converse with rational minded persons of India and Pakistan I have leant that there have always been leaders, organizations and peoples with goodwill towards each other on both sides of the border to bring about fruitful reconciliation.