“If Berlin Wall can come down then restoring cordial relations between Indian and Pakistan peoples should not be an insurmountable hurdle if there is willingness on both sides,” said Wing Commander (retd) Iqbal Singh, the leader of a group of Old Ravians who on Friday crossed the Wagha Border from India.
Thirteen Old Ravians from India arrived at the Government College University (GCU) to attend the annual dinner of the Old Ravians Association slated for Saturday (today). They have been invited by the university administration.
Singh, who studied at Government College (GC) from 1942 to 1946, told The Express Tribune that the governments should reduce the number of soldiers at Siachen to normalise the situation. He said keeping forces on such a height in extreme weather did not serve any purpose.
Asked why military officers spoke about peace only after retirement, Singh said that during service they were barred from expressing their views on the subject.
“I am pleased to be here. It hasn’t changed much over all these years. The air, the serenity and the ambience all are the same.” Major General (retd) Jaidev Singh Datta (a GC student during 1945-1947) said he was pleasantly surprised to see a large number of female students at the university. “During my time here, there were only two girls in my class.”
Major General (retd) SN Talwar, said he remembered when Islamia College Lahore and GC had hockey matches at the Oval. “The excitement and energy is unforgettable.”
“I feel a special affection for this place and this city. The city where you grow up is always close to your heart and you can never forget it. GC reminds as of those good times. That’s what brings us here,” he added.
“At the time of Partition, 60 to 70 per cent Indian Civil Services and military officers were Ravians. You can imagine what a great institution this was and still is.”
Moina Cheema, whose husband studied at GC in 1945, said “I used to study at Sacred Heart School, which was quite close to Government College. GC and Lahore are both spell binding. Anybody who spends time here never forgets it.”
Mahbub Luthra said, “Whenever I am in Pakistan, I never feel like I am in a foreign country. The language, the people and the food are the same. . . . . One hopes the visas restrictions are relaxed and people get a chance to meet one another,” he said.
The delegation will be in Pakistan for five days.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2012.
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