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Saadda munda Hindustan da prime minister ban gaya

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    Saadda munda Hindustan da prime minister ban gaya

    I’m sorry to see you go, Nawaz Sharif, my friend . Former P.M . of India, Inderkumar Gujral.

    It was one of those typically long, tiring days, and I had just retired to bed, when the bedside phone rang. It was the Prime Minister’s hotline to Islamabad. I looked at the clock, it was minutes before midnight. What could be the matter, I wondered. The previous day I had spoken to my counterpart Nawaz Sharif about the five terrorists who had been arrested with Stinger missiles in the Kashmir Valley. Apprehensive, I picked up the phone.

    “Gujral saab, salaam,” Mian Nawaz Sharif’s voice came through loud and clear. “Mian Saheb, what’s happened? Are you at your office at this late hour?” I asked. “No, I’m in my bedroom,” replied Sharif. He said he had been extremely busy the entire day and was ringing up now so that he could fulfill his promise of providing details about the terrorist incident within 24 hours.

    I sighed with relief and settled down to talk to him in a lighter vein. “Where is your wife,” I asked. She was sitting next to him. “She wants me to tell you that when she met your wife in New York last month, she felt as though she was meeting her mother. She sends you her salaam,” Sharif replied. We were speaking in Punjabi.

    His sincerity, the fact he cared so much about his promise, was touching. That was the kind of rapport I shared with Mian Nawaz Sharif. For me, he was not just a head of government, but was and will always be a dear friend.

    My association with Sharif at a personal level dates back to 1994. I had then gone to Pakistan to attend the Track II conference of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Sharif sent Mushahid Hussain, who later became his information minister, to meet me in Rawalpindi and invite me to tea at his house. At that time, Benazir Bhutto was Prime Minister, and Sharif an important opposition leader. Mushahid and I were old friends. I had met him at Kuldip Nayar’s house in the early Eighties when he was in India on his honeymoon. I accepted Sharif’s invitation.

    Mian Saheb, as I addressed him, had a very elaborate spread that day. His colleagues like Sartaj Aziz and others were also there. I stayed for about two hours, and discussed a variety of issues including the possibility of improving relations between the two countries. They were unhappy that Benazir wasn’t doing enough in this direction. This was a month before the SAARC meet in New Delhi — Benazir did not come to the meeting, and instead sent her foreign minister Farooq Leghari.

    Our relationship deepened in 1996 when I became foreign minister. He sent Gohar Ayub with a message of cooperation. This inaugurated a new phase in the relationship of the two countries. Soon after that, I was elected Prime Minister and we met in Male during the SAARC conference. At our first encounter, he excitedly recounted how the people of my hometown Jhelum lit lamps the day I was sworn in. “ ‘Saadda munda Hindustan da prime minister ban gaya (Our son has become India’s Prime Minister)’, that’s what they said,” he told me.

    We had warm talks over elaborate breakfasts in his cottage. It was at Male that both of us drew the broad outlines of our bilateral cooperation. After a long time, Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers addressed a joint press conference, where I recited a couplet of Sardar Jafri: “Guftagu band na ho, baat se baat chale.”He endorsed it with enthusiasm.

    We met on numerous other occasions, at New York, Edinburgh and Dhaka. And the relationship extended even to our family members. My wife shares a very affectionate relationship with his wife. When his son came to India on a private visit, he made it a point to call on us.

    Nawaz Sharif, a generation younger to me, looks up to me as his elder. I once sent a basket of Alphonso mangoes to his father. He reciprocated by sending fruit from his own orchards. Nawaz told me later that the gesture had touched his father deeply.

    When we met in New York with our wives, he presented a beautiful carpet that we treasure to this day. The Sharifs came across to me as a very close knit family. Though industrialists and rich, their lifestyle was not ostentatious; they were self-effacing and rarely talked about themselves. Sharif is very devoted to his wife and family.

    We often discussed our problems of governance and even personal matters. In Edinburgh, we were sitting with our respective delegations when Sharif remarked, “Why don't you purchase power from us?” I said I was keen and suggested that our commerce ministers, who were also with us, should explore the possibility. His foreign secretary piped in, “Let us first solve the Kashmir problem before you talk of cooperation.” Sharif and I ignored the discordant note, but later, in private, I asked him how his officer could dare to speak like that in front of him. Nodding his head, he said, “Do you think I didn’t see it.”

    Sharif was interested in improving relations with India, but faced impediments from the hardliners. Yet we managed to relax visa curbs and encourage one to one interaction. Pakistan purchased 50,000 tonnes of sugar from us. The power purchase talks, though, did not bear fruit.

    We have kept in touch through telephone and letters. When the nuclear tests were conducted, I called him and urged restraint. His response was warm. Again, at the start of the Kargil conflict, I spoke to him. He promised to call back, but by the time he did, the issue had become so heated that his replies did not sound convincing. Last month, at the parliamentary conference in Dhaka, he sent a message of greetings through the Pakistani Speaker.

    I am sorry at his downfall. I guess he had taken on too many people. Only 10 days ago, I received a warm letter from him. Earlier he had written urging me to visit Pakistan as his guest. My feeling was that I should not do it till the situation between the two countries improves. In the letter, he said, “Why don’t you come to Pakistan so that we can show you how much we love you.” Perhaps some other day, my friend.

    (As told to Anita Kanungo)



    #2
    you are liar
    you think you can make your way to BBC
    with this crap
    like that billal musharuf

    this post should be removed!!!!!




    [This message has been edited by sabah (edited October 19, 1999).]

    Comment


      #3
      >>Benazir did not come to the meeting, and instead sent her foreign minister Farooq Leghari.

      Excuse me????

      Comment


        #4
        this was in 17th oct. hindustantimes, available in yahoo coverage of the coup.

        [This message has been edited by ZZ (edited October 19, 1999).]

        Comment

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