Sunday, November 08, 2009

Special Feature – The Indian Who Loves Pakistan

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The Indian Who Loves Pakistan

Author Khushwant Singh's home is always open to Pakistanis.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

The celebrated Delhi-based author Khushwant Singh loves Pakistan, a nation often looked at with suspicion, and sometimes even with hatred, by a majority of Indians.

One winter evening in 2009 at a rare public appearance, the 94-year-old novelist, facing a select audience that included the Indian prime minister’s wife, said, “I wish more Indians realise that most Pakistanis are nice people.”

Mr Singh’s views and preferences matter. Born in what is now Pakistan, he had migrated to India after the Indian Partition. His first novel, Train to Pakistan, is considered a masterpiece among the several books dealing with that part of the subcontinent's history. He has served as editor of some of India’s most prestigious newspapers and journals. He was close to prime ministers and presidents. Even at this ripe age, he writes a weekly column that is very popular.

A former member of the Indian parliament, Mr Singh lives in Sujan Singh Park, an old money neighbourhood in south Delhi. He has a board outside his drawing room door that famously says, “Don’t ring the bell unless expected.” The rule applies to all, including the VIPs, including the ‘self-important’ visitors from the West who send in chits saying “I’m so-and-so from the University of Chicago or Harvard.” No one is welcomed without a prior appointment, not even the President of India. However, Pakistanis - important people or not - are an exception. “For them, my doors are always open,” Mr Singh said, rather emotionally. “They never need an appointment to meet me. After all, Pakistan is the land I come from.” God bless the old man.

Khushwant Singh said it at this rare public appearance in New Delhi

The Indian Who Loves Pakistan

7 comments:

Kamran Channa said...

It takes great strength of character to to go against the common knowledge and belief. Good on him and his gentle soul

R. Nadeem said...

Amazing. I enjoyed this one.

R. Nadeem

Anonymous said...

He comes from British India as Pakistan didn’t even exist then. Secondly, if he is missing his birthplace so much, he should spend his last days in what is called now ‘Pakistan’, let’s hope he finds peace there.
An old man, we can’t take his view disapprovingly but if he meets with the current views of the poisoned views of the old and new generation ‘Pakistanis’ now, he might change his views.

Anonymous said...

when i read half the novel,'the company of a woman' i was so excited that i went to famous red light area of banglore to have sex,,when i came and read the other half of the novel,i was devastated
:)

Anonymous said...

That old, cantankerous, good-for-nothing crank Kushwanth Singh. He is good for exaggerations, name dropping, and little else.

ahmed

Anonymous said...

Khuswant Singh seems to have forgotten why he took the "Train from Pakistan" to come to India.
Any way, I am getting tired of this fake romanticism of indo-pak parzania. Khuswant is more than welcome to board the train back!
Lets get real. As always the elitist escape from the ground reality. As an Indian Hindu, I thank Jinnah a lot because he has helped India a lot by creating pakistan.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you,Even i have the same view abt the creation of pakistan.I live in Dubai.When I see all these ferocious looking men.I am like 'Oh god Had the parttion not happened these genome would be walking on our streets and live in our neighbourhoods and make our life a living hell.

But I know as well that all Pakistanis are not like that from my interactions with them.Some are very polite,but there is a large bunch who are very backward.I am nt trying to say we have achieved something but we are definitely trying to achieve 2 diff things.For eg The world is running in one direction majority of the pakistan on the other.God Bless Pakistan but its better this way.we can make peace and be friends like this.

Tina