Our guests from Pakistan

Our guests from Pakistan

Across the world, the opening of Kartarpur Corridor received accolades. The historic and inspiring move has paved another great path for fortifying love and peace between the parted brothers— India and Pakistan.

Interestingly, the opening brought me back to a day in the summer of 2006 when my village- home at Butala near Amritsar hosted guests from Pakistan— mainly from its Punjab. Our guests were a delegation of agricultural experts, led by Shah Mehmood Qureshi who is currently Pakistan’s minister of foreign affairs and was then a top- official in his state’s agriculture department.

I was in grade 12 that year and it was worth taking leave from school and was also encouraged by my grandmother Swaran Bal, who represented the village. What I vividly remember is the exhilaration among villagers as they welcomed the delegation, each one calling them as ‘our special guests.’ The street leading to our home was filled with people prior their arrival, especially by the elderly holding garlands, and once they arrived they were welcomed to the beats of traditional drums. There were also many seen running on rooftops to catch a glimpse.

The many farmers who had gathered were eager to learn about Pakistan and soon almost every member of the delegation went unfolding their nostalgic tales before Partition— filling the air with both poignancy and joy. Which is why, when I think of that day, I do not remember much talk on agriculture but remember the friendship that commenced, with several from the village hugging them.

I also remember my moment of joy as I was tasked to propose the vote of thanks to them. All because of the following words I used at the end of my note, directed towards the parted brother, “we are born to love, not to hate, to help each other and not to destroy one another.” The moment I ended my speech, Qureshi stood up and came to hug me, adding that this is what each one of us on both sides of the border need to understand.

Later, the delegation rained praise on village cooks and women for the sumptuous Punjabi lunch prepared by them. Nostalgic conversations continued when we took them to our home’s rooftop where they seemed lost in the view, calling it similar to villages in their Punjab. Finally, with heavy hearts, we bid them goodbyes. As a symbol of love, we gifted them phulkaris and messages written on cards by local school children. One of them was especially thought-provoking, “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”