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    Sep 2011


    Default Shatrughan Sinha refuses to hate Pakistan

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    "Let's talk peace," says Shatrughan Sinha who refuses to hate Pakistan

    You've just returned from attending a wedding in Islamabad? Rather politically incorrect, considering two of our jawaans were shot and mutilated by elements across the border, no?
    First of all I was not in Islamabad in any political capacity. I went there as a brother to my mooh-boli behen Zian, Zia-ul-Haq's daughter who is a special child, and very special to me. I attended her marriage many years ago. I was the only Indian and only Hindu at her wedding. Now I went to attend her son's marriage. No function in that family is complete without me. It was a wonderful experience. I met so many of today's politicians in Pakistan. Not as politicians but as guests at the wedding. Nawaz Sharif even gave a fabulous farewell lunch for me but look at what I've come back to. Loud news of cross-border firing and killing.

    Are you saying the news shouldn't have been broadcast?
    I am not saying that at all. I am as grieved and shocked by the killings of our jawaans as any Indian. But I insist, my going to Pakistan had no bearing on what transpires at the border. When I meet politicians in Pakistan on a social level they display tremendous love and respect for my country and me. I am merely reciprocating the love and warmth and affection I get from them.

    Does it help to extend a hand of friendship to Pakistan, as you've been doing for so many years when that hand is repeatedly bitten?
    I don't know. I am not qualified to comment on political relations because I don't go there as a politician. I say, what has happened is unwarranted and condemnable. But I am pretty sure that the soldiers from Pakistan acted on their own without taking the permission of their high command. It could be a completely localized dispute. Also, how much of what we're hearing and reading is the real truth? We really don't know When I was in Pakistan what I read in the international press about the Indo-Pak tensions was completely different from what I read at home. But I am sickened by what I read and see on television.

    Do you think there is an asha of aman (hope for peace) between the two countries?
    No matter what happens, the dialogue for the peace process must continue. Compared with earlier times the civilians in Pakistan are very pro-India today. I was there in Lahore when India won and Pakistan lost the cricket match. There was no hungama after that. Over here everyone in politics is trying to show his loyalty to 'The King' by shouting the loudest against Pakistan. However, that doesn't mean I condone incidents such as the one that happened at the border this week. What I am saying is that progressive-thinking people on both sides want peace. Those who believe in peaceful co-existence would never want such incidents to happen. I repeat, the dialogue between the two countries must continue uninterrupted.

    Why don't they send you to Pakistan as India's high commissioner?
    That is up to the government of India to decide. I'd be most happy to go. So what if I am not in the ruling party? When it comes to the safety of the country we are all one. No one wants war with Pakistan. War is never a solution. It's always a problem. In Pakistan, I am already known as a cultural ambassador. Again next month, I am going back to attend their Jashne-e-Bahara celebrations for the spring season. I will go and do more constructive talks. Some of my colleagues believe in destructive talks. I don't. Let's talk with hosh, not josh.



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