Promoting peace: With poetry and promises, Shahbaz charms Indian Punjab

Published: December 15, 2013
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Chief minister says the neighbours can overcome mutual problems.

Chief minister says the neighbours can overcome mutual problems.

Just as the Pakistani and Indian teams flexed their muscles ahead of Kabaddi World the Cup final in Ludhiana, Indian Punjab, on Saturday, Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Pakistani Punjab, urged Islamabad and New Delhi to team up and tackle mutual problems.

He recited couplets from an Urdu poem, “Let us plant a tree of love that spreads some shade in the courtyard of the neighbour”, adding that regardless of the outcome of the match, it will be a ‘win-win situation’ for both countries. “Both of us should be happy with a victory,” he said to a receptive crowd standing in its seats.

At a wrestling arena packed with thousands of charged spectators, the audience cheered and applauded as Shahbaz’s speech eased from Urdu to Punjabi to captivate a largely Punjabi-speaking crowd.

“If European countries can come close despite centuries of hatred and animosities, why can’t Pakistan and India do so for the prosperity and betterment of their peoples?” said Shahbaz, as his host, the chief minister of Indian Punjab, Parkash Singh Badal, looked on.

He said that the partition of India was a decision of history and no one could knock down the walls of borders between them, but the peoples and the governments of the two countries could certainly overcome hurdles blocking their way to prosperity, progress and security.

“This time you have invited me here, next time we will host the Kabbadi World Cup in Lahore and I will invite the [Indian] Punjab chief minister and all these people here to come and watch,” he said, with viewers rooting him on.

The chief minister underscored the need for promoting love, harmony and trade in South Asia. “We should work together to make this region the best in the world,” he said before the start of the final match.

“We should sit together to resolve all issues and work for the promotion of trade and bilateral relations between Pakistan and India.”

Shahbaz also said that both countries would have to work in unison to end unemployment and poverty. “I have learnt some things here and you can learn some things when you come to Lahore. Pakistani Punjab and Indian Punjab can work together to improve trade, education and health.”

The Punjab chief minister is being given extraordinary protocol during his four-day trip to India. The routes he has been taking during his visit have been decorated with colourful bunting and lit up.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Stranger
    Dec 15, 2013 - 12:23PM

    We dont want one sided peace and friendship with india while india keeps backstabbing Pakistanis and killing Kashmiris.

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  • Komal S
    Dec 15, 2013 - 4:26PM

    @Stranger:
    Peace cannot be bought with some sweet talk. For the last few months Pakistan is talking peace but has taken no action for peace. This is a conscious strategy to avoid going after the terror elements within the country.

    regards,
    murali

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  • Dr.Suresh Sinha
    Dec 15, 2013 - 7:32PM

    @Komal S:
    @ Stranger

    Komal is right. Pakistan’s “peace offer” is another hollow and sham affair; words should be first matched with action. First of all, remove the terrorist network on your soil which is giving you a bad name worldwide. Bring to justice the real killers behind the Mumbai carnage (read: Hafeez Syed) who go around scotfree under your noses. They are responsible for the killing of some 170 civilians, including women and children. If you don’t, the world will keep calling you an uncivilized, lawless and a stone-age country, at par with other failed states such as Somalia, North Korea, etc. Foreign investors will not even look at Pakistan, let alone visit the country. The same goes for textile buyers who prefer Bangladesh, Vietnam and other supplying countries. Change your history books and be honest with students: you don’t have to teach them myths and fiction that Indians (read: Hindus) should be destroyed. You simply cannot do that because India’s sheer size is impossible for you to handle. Also, stop this barbaric practice of sneaking in and beheading one or two unsuspecting Indian soldiers at the borders and calling it a “freedom struggle”. Shahbaz Sharif’s “poetry and promises” will not charm Indians who have been bitten many times and now are not only shy but disgusted of their neighbours. After all, it was this same Shahbaz Sharif who a few years ago was hissing venom against India and Indians, and threatening to destroy them. Also, his brother Nawaz Sharif spoke of a “fourth war” against India just a few days before Shahbaz arrived to plead in Delhi for resumption of talks.

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  • Hmm
    Dec 16, 2013 - 12:11AM

    If sweet words were healers , we would have hired many like him to do this . Terrorists and Anarchists only understand word of bullets .

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  • SH
    Dec 16, 2013 - 8:50AM

    @Dr.Suresh Sinha:
    There is nowhere in any school/college/university syllabus where it advocates killing of Hindus or any ethnic group for that matter. If you’re so much concerned about Hafiz Saeed then why don’t you approach an international court and let the matter be resolved there once and for all? Don’t worry, we won’t end up like South Korea. We have the talent and capability to overcome our current problems and prosper. Just waiting for the right leadership to emerge.

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  • sarwan
    Dec 16, 2013 - 8:53AM

    Well-done India and the credet to pakistan side. Shahbash: Shahbash Sharif,you won the hearts and minds of the punjabi people and the Indians by delivering a most beautiful and heart touching speech. Well-done.

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  • Arjun Singh
    Dec 16, 2013 - 7:31PM

    @SH:

    Sorry, if I may correct you. Dr. Sinha was putting Pakistan in the “big league” alongside Somalia and North Korea (not South Korea, as you have stated). As for putting Hafeez Syed before an international tribunal, this can only be done if one gets him extradited or if he decides to travel outside Pakistan. He is on Interpol’s wanted list, anyway, and should be arrested if he ever left Pakistan where he has his safe haven. I also believe that you should take a closer look at the school textbooks and history books which clearly portray India and Hindus as enemies. You can start moving in the right direction by first acknowledging and cleaning up your own mess. Half of your country’s problems will be resolved if you gave your school children a modern education — teach them math, science, languages, physics, etc. and not religious fanaticism (in madrassahs). Nearly 70% of Pakistani schools get funding but do not operate any classes (ET, Dawn and others have reported that!). How can you ever have nation-building population? Religion is good if it is treated and respected as an individual’s private matter. It becomes a chaotic and destructive force if it acquires an official status above everything else (as it once happened in Taliban-governed Afghanistan and is also happening today in Pakistan). India has, admittedly, problems of poverty, healthcare, environmental pollution but even amidst these issues, every Indian (including our Muslim brethren) have the opportunity to succeed. Does Pakistan offer the same conditions to its minorities who are disappearing and desperately want to leave the land of the pure? How can you succeed when your chameleon type of politicians are elected, by rotation, and merely change their language and rhetoric without making substantial changes and keeping their promises (if they make). This is also, largely, the result of the absence of a modern education system in Pakistan which would have enabled the public to critically examine the leaders. Think, my brother.

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  • SH
    Dec 16, 2013 - 9:06PM

    @Arjun Singh:
    Thanks for the correction regarding North Korea. To be like North Korea or Somalia, Pakistan will have to go thru a civil war which is far-fetched at this point. As for Hafiz Saeed, if he’s guilty, he should be punished. If a Pakistani court has acquitted him then he’s been proven innocent. If India doesn’t accept that decision, then unfortunately, Pakistan doesn’t have an extradition treaty with India. So in this scenario, international court is the only option. So keep waiting until he leaves the country. I don’t know who gave you the info about textbooks. Until you don’t have any evidence to share then I’m afraid its all hearsay. Hindu and Sikh students also share the same schools and study the same syllabus as Muslim students BTW. You’re right about ghost schools. But that’s due to corruption. Yes, people do want to leave Pakistan mainly due to economic conditions. But they’re not just from the minorities. How about the fact that 25 million Indians are living abroad? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-residentIndianandpersonofIndianorigin) How many of those have left due to persecution from the majority population? You’re also right about the government. But like I mentioned in my previous comments that we’re not short of any talent. We have world class institutions producing world class young professionals. We’re just waiting for the right leadership to emerge which can put to use this immense talent of the country.

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  • arjun singh
    Dec 16, 2013 - 9:48PM

    @SH:
    My apologies if I may seem to be correcting you, but have you asked yourself why you do not get the “right leadership”? It boils down to one thing: education! The more educated an average Pakistani is, the greater are his/her chances of selecting politicians with qualities that can transform a medieval country into a dynamic and modern economy which can bring prosperity to its people. Never having visited Pakistan, I cannot go into schools and determine the quality and accuracy of text books, but I have been told by Pakistanis (mainstream Sunni Muslims, not just minorities) that these are grossly distorted to feed the masses with the fiction that Indians (and Hindus) are enemies and they (Pakistanis) are Arabs! I have also watched televised discussions in Pakistan about the poor quality of education and the fictionalized text books. Why? Is that argument used to propagate and justify the two-nation theory based on religion, and to continue with the privileges for a few selected elements in your country? You have to also read what international organizations, including educated Pakistanis, say about your text books and education. Your history, dear friend, is just 65 years old. India has a history and civilization that are 5,000 years old. After all, you were born out of Greater India (even though it was British governed). You come from the same cultural circle as Indians do; you eat more or less the same food, dress more or less like Indians, speak (again more or less) the same language, etc. Frankly, most Indians do not nurse any grievance or hatred against Pakistanis; it’s just that this extremism culture is very destructure (for you and the entire world) because you can, in the final analyses, not only be completely isolated like Somalia or North Korea or, worse still, get further fragmented. Pakistan has a very fragile economy which is tightly controlled by feudal interests; it’s not a market economy that caters to the masses and brings revenue for the state (which, again, is deprived of precious taxes). It’s a very long story of conditionalities and variables that will consume a long time and space to explain. But, Sir, you and your compatriots have my good wishes and we would like you to prosper and be happy, and stop spewing venom at neighbours. You need to look inside yourselves; once you start doing that, you will see the world in a different light. A small step, but it’s in the right direction.

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