In an article written in July 2001, Kuldip Nayar describes how after the rout of Pakistan in the 1965 war – a war that was started by Bhutto as per Ayub Khan himself – Lal Bahadur Shastri did all he could to get peace with Pakistan. Bhutto never wanted that to happen and despite a small phrase added on the Tashkent Agreement – “Without resort to arms” – by Ayub Khan in his own handwriting (still in the archives of the External Affairs ministry in India), Bhutto never really intended to carry it through.
A mistake – of believing Bhutto – that India would do again in 1971 by returning 90,000 prisoners of war after the war for a Shimla Agreement that was not even worth the paper it was signed on.
It was around midnight. I used the hotline on which Kumarmangalam was speaking to someone in Delhi. When he hung up, I called the UNI office in Delhi. I dictated my biggest scoop, “Shastri dead.” The journalist at the other end asked, “How is it possible sir? I am subbing his speech.”
Late that night, Ayub Khan came to the dacha. He prayed. He told me, “If this man had lived, there was a possibility of India and Pakistan coming together to live in peace.”
India honoured the Tashkent accord. But Pakistan never implemented it. Bhutto was against it.
Haji Pir and Tithwa are two posts that have always been sore spots in many a soldier’s mind in India, who fought in the 1965 war. India won those posts after shedding a lot of blood. Many soldiers wept and cried and vowed not to leave despite Shastri’s acceptance of their return to Pakistan. His own wife refused to talk to him on the last night of his life. She was aghast and angry. The press were against Shastri.
I went back to the hotel and retired early. I was dreaming about Shastri’s death when someone knocked at the door. “Your prime minister is dying,” a fat lady said. I rushed to Shastri’s dacha. As soon as I entered, I saw Kosygin speak to somebody. In a large room, a small man’s body was lying, crumbled. I could see he had struggled with the thermos.
We were informed that Shastri came in at 9.30 pm and called for a doctor. Later, Dr Chugh, his personal doctor, said, “Shastriji did not give me time.”
Later, we discovered that Shastri spoke to his family in Delhi every day. That evening, he had called Delhi and asked for Ammaji, his wife Lalita. His daughter came on the line. It is said his daughter said, “Amma won’t come on the line. You have given away Haji Pir and Tithwa.” It is said she was very upset. Of course, former defence minister V K Krishna Menon and Vajpayee also criticized him. He then asked his daughter to send him all the newspapers to Afghanistan where he would halt for some time.
It is said he tried to reach Delhi again, but Ammaji never came on line.
In the midst of this, the dimunitive but tough Shastri relented – gave Haji Pir and Tithwa back and got nothing in return. Then he died after signing the Tashkent accord. That night a lot happened, it seems. While Kuldip Nayar was dreaming of Shastri’s death, his leader was actually dying. And even before his personal doctor could attempt to save Shastri, he died… struggling with a thermos. And not before he had left a note in his spectacle case saying “I Have Been betrayed”.
I Have Been Betrayed’: Thirty-five years after the Indo-Pak summit in
Tashkent, a prime minister’s final words cast doubts about his sudden
A little sentence on a little slip of paper. But when that sentence is in
the handwriting of then prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, when that slip
of paper is found inside the spectacle case that was handed over, along
with Shastri’s body, following his sudden death in Tashkent on January 11,
Who killed Shastri and why is still a mystery that no one was ever interested in.. least of all, his own party and people.
A lot of water has flown under this bridge and things have gone back and forth. Today, Pakistan has come a full circle. What started with Bhutto’s jehadi mindset of anti-Hindu feelings and vows to “I will see these Hindu bastards” when AQ Khan stole the nuclear designs from Holland and escaped to Pakistan despite the interpol red alert; had changed to full scale war and terrorism to gain strategic depth under Bhutto’s nemesis Zia Ul-Haq. Three decades later, now, when the same jehadi “will kill Hindus” mindset finally put Zulfikar Bhutto’s greatest legacy Benazir Bhutto to death, a family member and the least likely person to do such a thing has talked of rolling back the hatred and the mistrust.
In a Government virtually headed by Musharraf – the mastermind of another war of distrust, Kargil – Zardari’s statement seems like a koyal on a dark summer day.
Some of his bold statements are:
– I want a “Grand reconciliation”
– Take 500,000 Army soldiers out and if at all, replace with police.
– Use Pakistan as a “force multiplier” for India’s economy.
– I can give gas and oil to India, build Deep water sea ports and connect through high speed cargo trains to feed India’s industry
– Use virgin land near India’s border that cannot be cultivated now and use that to feed India and the world.
– Let go of visas and use biometrics and fingerprints to track people so “we are not making mischief there and you are not making mischief here”
– And Finally declaring something that no one since the birth of Pakistan has even dared to utter “We had one country, one nation”.
It is a statement that comes only in dreams… and to a person – and nation – who/which is confident in its existence and has nothing to fear. Pakistan unfortunately was built on that fear and that is why it has tried to seek Masters in Americans, the Chinese and the OIC. It is important that the Pakistanis of tomorrow aim to become their own Masters. Just as India needs to learn to live on its own – independent of Russian and/or American influence.
Sub continent’s future of peace is dependent, therefore, less on our differences and more on our ability to live our lives on OUR terms as opposed to that of others. Switzerland is peaceful with its neighbors because it is confident in itself. Fear breeds mistrust.
The formation of the consolidated north-west Indian Muslim state appears to be final destiny of the Muslims, at least of the north- India.
This was a statement of exclusivity by Dr Muhammad Iqbal. Exclusivity and the admission of inability to work with the other betrays a fear. And that formed the genesis of this idea. Back in my school, I learnt a couplet of Mohd Iqbal:
Yunan, Misr, Romaan, sab mit gaye jahan se;
baaki magar hai ab tak, naam-o-nishaan hamara.
Kuchh baat hai ki hasti mit ti nahin hamari;
Sadiyon raha hai dushman daur-e-jahan hamara.
(Greek, Egyptian and Roman civilization have vanished;
still alive is the Indian civilization.
There must be something to its identity,
for the enemy has been at us relentlessly.)
That “something” is what the poet could never articulate or ascertain. It is called Tolerance. Or better still understanding. When you can work with someone despite your difference in views and BECAUSE you realize that views are just that.. views. Ultimately human beings as people are more important than their views.
Personally, I am shocked – pleasantly – at the clarity of Zardari’s thought and aspirational nature of his statement. Practically, however, it may be a challenge – both, from the Indian side and the Pakistani side. Ironically, Zardari may have now turned the jehadi guns at himself and face the wrath of many a nationalists back home. But wedged between US and China – both using Pakistan for their own motives – and the Tsunami of Taliban and ultra religionists building up, this dream of Zardari may be THE only way out for Pakistan to live the dream of its creator, Jinnah in its honesty.
Food and money feed the poor, God – however benevolent – has yet to make a personal trip to distribute food in the sub-continent to save the hungry. Sadly, we have wasted many lives and years in fighting over this elusive source of benevolence without any result. It is time to turn to “lesser forces” to solve problems.