When Ajmal Kasab was hanged to death, I wrote an article justifying the hanging. Among the many mails I have received in response, one was from a Nadeem Akhtar, Karachi, Pakistan. He wrote: “I am a Pakistani national, living in Karachi. I fully support and endorse your views. No human being has the right to kill innocent people to satisfy his or her agenda. No purpose can be fulfilled by spraying bullets on other human beings.” The recent savagery of Pakistani soldiers on the dead bodies of Indian soldiers reminded me of the sane voice of Nadeem Akthar and my trip to the Wagha Border.
It was more than a decade ago, while I was a JNU student, I visited Jallianwala Bagh and the Wagha Border. On the way to the Wagha Border to witness the daily beating retreat ceremony, the endless tracts of wheat fields that lay on either side of the Grand Trunk Road fascinated me. And the sight of huge barbed wire fence cutting across the wheat fields troubled me too. There is no geographical difference between the places that lay inside the fence and beyond the fence.
But beyond the fence it is Pakistan and inside the fence it is India. The barbed wire fence occupies more than one metre width of earth in an endless stretch of length. I have never seen such a gigantic barbed wire fence. It seemed to me as a monster created by both India and Pakistan to divide a once united motherland.
The elaborate beating retreat ceremony with the army men of both the countries stamping loudly with their heavily booted legs, their parade, their acrobatics, the simultaneous lowering of the flags of India and Pakistan didn’t fascinate me the least.
All the while, I was looking beyond the barbed wire fence to see some Pakistani villagers. It was from Jallianwala Bagh, I went to the Wagah Border. The Martyr's Well and the bullet marks on the walls around the bottle-neck ground in Jallianwala Bagh vividly brought forth the poignant scenes from our past and I felt proud of our history.
But I felt ashamed of us on seeing the Wagah Border check post and the barbed wire fence. In Jallianwala Bagh, people died not as the citizens of two nations. The descendants of those people who braved the British bullets for the independence of the motherland, erected huge barbed wire fence between them. And now, we are not ready to even sit together and discuss and solve the festering issues between us. Indians wish to teach Pakistan a lesson. Pakistan may be wishing to teach India a lesson. Everybody wants to teach. Nobody wants to learn!