Daily Archives: June 24, 2008

Pakistani-Hindustani Bhai-Bhai, Literally Up In The Sky!

Yoginder Sikand

We have a three-hour stop over at Lahore airport on our way back to
Delhi from Islamabad. I am excited about going back home, but, at the
same time, am sad at the thought of leaving Pakistan. I don’t know
when, if at all, I can come back here, if I can ever again meet some
of those wonderful people whom I almost instantly bonded with in my
short week-long visit to the country. I wonder if I will again be
fortunate enough to get a visa to visit Pakistan.

After all, this, my second visit to Pakistan, was made possible only
after great effort and because of having friends who had the right
contacts in the right places. After my first visit, three years ago,
my applications for a visa to return, to attend conferences and meet
friends, were repeatedly turned down. The reason, so I heard: Upon my
return from that visit, some articles that I wrote on certain aspects
of life in Pakistan—the problems of Dalits and other rural poor in
Sindh and the crisis of intellectuals in the country generally—were
not quite liked by someone in the Pakistan High Commission in New
Delhi, who, so I gather, assumed that this somehow made me highly
suspect. So, he made it a point to make sure that I was to be refused
to enter the country again by putting my name on a particular ‘list’
of unwanted elements. Of course, this someone did not care to notice
the good things that I had written about Pakistan as well, and the
fact, as I had mentioned in my writings that he had seen, that we in
India face similar problems—observations which firmly contradicted the
opinion that he had formed about me.

But, somehow, I am back now in Pakistan and I feel wonderful about it
(after all, this was the home of half of my ancestors!) and this
week-long visit to Islamabad has been overwhelming in every sense of
the term. This trip has afforded me an opportunity to see a different
side of Pakistan, in many respects quite in contrast to what I
observed on my first visit. Islamabad is certainly the cleanest and
most organized city in all of South Asia, and the friends that I’ve
made on this trip have been exceptionally interesting: social
activists, religious scholars, journalists, NGO workers and
documentary film makers. All of which makes me feel a sense of loss
and a heavy sadness deep down inside at the prospect that now that I
should be in Delhi in four hours’ time and not knowing if I can ever
come back. Continue reading


Filed under Lahore, Travel