By Khushwant Singh
June 30, 2012
Though forced to flee from Lahore in August 1947, I do not have the slightest ill-will against Pakistan. On the contrary, I describe myself as a man of dual nationality. I am Indian as well as Pakistani. Although I no longer receive visitors from India or abroad, I make an exception in the case of Pakistanis. They come with or without prior appointment. I welcome them with open arms. I am of the opinion that friendship with Pakistan should be the top priority of India’s foreign policy. Pakistanis have nothing in common with Americans or the Chinese. Neither do we. On the other hand we have everything in common between us. Our legacy, language, values and faiths.
It is true we fought three wars, and in the last one in 1971, we inflicted a humiliating defeat on Pakistan in what then became Bangladesh. It still rankles in the minds of Pakistan’s army personnel and educated middle class. We were in the right in helping Bangladeshis who had suffered much at the hands of the Pakistani army. The Holy Prophet Mohammed proclaimed, “Allah gives victory to those whose cause is just.” Our cause was just and we helped Sheikh Mujibur Rehman reclaim his homeland.
But it is time we forgot the past and strove to create new bonds of friendship with Pakistan. We must help them get rid of the notion that India is its principal enemy. This becomes more evident as one Pakistani government falls and another takes its place only to fall within a year or two. We can do this if we do what America and China do for them. Give them the aid they need and assure them that we bear no grudge against them. There are men and women in Pakistan who are eager to grasp the hand of friendship we extend to them. There is Asma Jehangir. And thousands of others. There is no dearth of men and women in India who wish to create brotherly relations with Pakistan. Leading among them is our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, himself a refugee from Pakistan who lost all he had with the partition. We look up to him to start a new page in the history of Indo-Pak relations. It is a coincidence that both Prime Ministers came from the same region Rawalpindi, Campbellpur (Pothohar) district and speak the same dialect, Pothohari.