“I many times thought peace had come when peace was far away.” Says Emily Dickenson. When I was done with my examination of intermediate part II, I had to wait for almost 3 months for the result, in fact, every student gets these months free. Meanwhile, many students plan to learn something new in this free-period even the conscious parents ask their children to spend these months in productive activities. My father too advised me to start reading newspaper, and he asked the newspaperman to deliver The Express Tribune and Dawn on daily basis at home. It was first time in my life I started reading newspaper regularly.
On one day my father asked me whether I am enjoying reading newspaper or not? I said, “No”. He then asked me to bring The Express Tribune to him, when I handed over the newspaper to him, he opened the column section. He was utterly surprised to see that there was Kuldip Nayar’s article in it, and I ignored it. How could I read him when I didn’t know him. My father was slightly angered over me and in his frustration he said, “you must read Kuldip Nayar’s articles.” He moreover said, “ When he was young he used to passionately read his articles.” I got his advice, and that was how I first came in contact with Sir Kuldip Nayar.
Born in Sialkot, on 14 August 1923, Kuldip Nayar lived a life full of passion, peace and protest. Kuldip Nayar’s family was the victim of partition, and they had to leave their ancestral home when they saw the hatred and violence out of control. While remembering partition Kuldip Nayar writes, “Despite the somewhat tense atmosphere in Sialkot, We led a normal life until the announcement of partition on 12 August 1947 which changed everything. I was twenty four years old. It was like a spark thrown at the haystack of distrust. The subcontinent burst into communal violence.”
As I said earlier that my father too was a fan of Kuldip Nayar, so we later developed the habit of reading his columns together on every Saturday and Sunday. My father, being very apolitical, used to praise his writing style and I, having a keen interest in politics showed interest in his political analysis. Reading Kuldip Nayar’s columns with my father that is probably the best and only memory I have with my father. On a side note, I must say that parents should make such little memories with their children not just to make them feel home with themselves but in terms of keeping up their legacy to next generations. Well Kuldip Nayar’s columns usually based on Indo-Pak relations, and in almost every column he often recalled the events of partition and reminded the horrors of hatred and violence to the so-called political leaders. He believed that peace is the only way forward because violence, once starts, in any shape, is a never ending process.
I became very happy when one day my father, on his return from his office, surprised me when he said, “I have bought ,a book of Kuldip Nayar for you.” When I took the book and saw its cover it was his autobiography, Beyond the Lines. Here our interest shifted from his columns to his books. Being a lover of reading autobiographies, I started reading Beyond the Lines and immediately fell in love with it. Kuldip Nayar was probably the only man who had the honor to meet with all the leaders from Nehru to Modi, Jinnah to Imran khan and Lord Mountbatten to Margaret Thatcher. That’s why his accounts were more fascinating and more authentic than others.
His autobiography is not just a biography of him but it also deals or exposes different hidden historical facts including the Partition of India, The years of Nehru, The Bangladesh War, The Emergency in India, Operation Bluestar and the years of Dr. Manmohan Singh. So it’s a kind of political autobiography.
Being a fierce advocate of Indo-Pak friendship, Kuldip Nayar, often charged with allegations for having a pro-Pakistan narrative by the right wing Hindus. But he remained resolute throughout his career and life. He not only emphasized on the Hindu-Muslim unity but in his own country when prime minister Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency in India that continued for 21-months, it was only Kuldip Nayar who resisted rigorously against this step because he thought that these steps can deter the democracy in India. But no one was there to listen to the solo voice of Kuldip Nayar, and he was arrested by the police for mobilizing people against the Emergency. Later in his book, The Judgement, he enclosed all the incidents that led to the Emergency.
Kuldip Nayar’s vision for peace in South Asia was certainly inspired from the pain he witnessed at the time of Partition. Throughout his life, Kuldip Nayar rigorously advised India and Pakistan that they should end up fighting on fake narratives which were created during the Colonial rule, and focus on education, poverty and unemployment. He also dreamt for a visa-free South Asia. To heel the wounds of partition, it was only Kuldip Nayar who took the initiative of lightening of candles at Wagha Border on the night of 14/15 August.
What a coincidence that the day Kuldip Nayar passed, on 23 August 2018, me and my father were watching TV and my Taya Abu tuned in an Indian channel. Meanwhile, we heard this shocking news. The news was that ‘Jaane maanay patrkar Kuldip Nayar ka dihant ho gaya ha.’ After listening to this heart wrenching news I said to my father ‘Ab hum kis ke coulmns parhe gain.’ There was complete silence in the room. Kuldip Nayar’s ashes were immersed in the River Ravi by his grand-daughter, Mandira Nayar, as it was his last wish.
Great people do not die; their work continues to inspire people. And Kuldip Nayar’s legacy of peace will always motivate the youth of India and Pakistan.
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