Thursday July 18, 2024

Say no to war

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
March 01, 2019

When Nimrod tried to burn Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) in a horrific fire, a little sparrow was carrying water in its beak with a purpose to quench the great the fire. A crow asked the poor bird why it was doing something so useless, since the fire was so huge and its beak was so small.

The sparrow said: “I know, I am not so strong to fight the fire, but I am playing my due role to extinguish the fire.”

This ancient story echoed in my mind due to my recent visit to India. At the time of my appointment as convener of the recently-formed Pakistan-India Parliamentary Friendship Group in the National Assembly, I vowed to bring the people of both countries closer. That is why, when I was invited by the Indian government to attend the holy Kumbh festival, I decided to avail the opportunity to spread the message of peace.

It is an ugly tradition in the neighbouring country to promote Pakistan bashing, especially during election campaigns. Unfortunately, this year the Pulwama attack also occurred just a few months before the general elections. As a result, the Indian media started non-stop coverage to blame Pakistan for the unfortunate incident.

Due to the ongoing tough situation, I was advised by my many well-wishers to postpone the India tour. However, after consultation, I decided to participate in the Kumbh Mela, held at Allahabad. The festival is the world’s largest religious. It is a peaceful event, which also has deep philosophical and spiritual significance for the Hindu community across the globe.

It is believed that anyone who takes a holy dip in the sacred water of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati gets rid of all sins and attains eternal peace. This year, 182 participants, belonging to 181 countries, were invited to attend with the purpose of promoting interfaith harmony.

I told the Indian media that Pakistan is a peace-loving country, and being the frontline state against war on terror, it has offered huge sacrifices in order to achieve peace and prosperity. We must strengthen people-to-people contacts, and resolve long-standing conflicts in a peaceful manner. My presence also resulted in empowering the local peace communities in India. Similarly, I warned the international community that possible war between two nuclear powers can destroy ninety percent of the world population. I succeeded in convincing many that the solutionto each and every conflict is dialogue, not war.

I also reminded my Indian guests about the poetry of their own poet, Sahir Ludhianvi. After the Indo-Pak war 1965, the renowned poet highlighted the miseries of war in his poems. I am glad that my message of peace had secured due coverage by Indian, Pakistani and foreign media. On behalf of the Pakistani nation, I condemned the Pulwama attack, and also offered condolences with the families of the deceased.

Later, I was accompanied by former Indian army chief V K Singh and other international delegates of the Kumbh Mela to New Delhi in a special plane. On the second day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on to greet us warmly. On the occasion, I once again urged the importance of maintaining regional peace and harmony. I also had an exclusive one-on-one meeting with Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and other high-level officials.

I made it clear to the Indian leadership that no Pakistani institution was behind the Pulwama attack and that restoration of peace is in the best interest of the people of Pakistan and India. No doubt, there are on both sides those that are trying to sabotage the peace process but the door of dialogue must never be closed. It is a clear message from Pakistan to India that if war is imposed then the entire Pakistani nation will safeguard its national dignity and honour.

However, just after three days, India invaded Pakistani territory. We must salute our brave armed forces that are quite capable to defend our motherland Pakistan. India must understand that now the entire Pakistani nation is united against Indian aggression. Still I am hopeful that peace-loving segments across the borders will join hands to restore regional peace. It is a good sign that internet users from both countries are running a campaign using the hashtag #SayNotoWar on social media.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani