Remembering Gujral for peace efforts
The death of Indar Kumar Gujral, an intellectual, diplomat, statesman and former prime minister of India, is a great loss for both India and Pakistan. Although he was born in Punjab, he settled in Karachi in the 1940s. Sobho Gianchani and Qadir Bakhsh Nizami, both members of the Communist Party, India, were among his friends.
In Karachi, Gujral actively participated in the Quit India Movement and was imprisoned. I had the privilege of meeting him at his house in New Delhi, in 2007. I found him to be a simple, courteous and highly informed grand old gentleman.
We spoke in Urdu, English and Punjabi. Sometimes I switched to Sindhi, and he understood and enjoyed that too. With the partition of India the exodus of Hindus and Sikhs from Karachi was one of the traumatic events of Gujral Sahib’s life.
He praised the courage of the late Mohammed Ayub Khuhro, the then chief minister of Sindh, who by taking a revolver in his hand, and travelling in an open jeep, protected the Hindus and Sikhs from the savagery of the rioters.
Not only this, but the looted property was recovered and returned to them.
According to Gujral Sahib, after the dismissal of the Khuhro government in 1948 it became difficult for non-Muslims to live in Karachi.
And Gujral like many other non-Muslims migrated to India where he made his name in the world of the intelligentsia and politics.
As a friend of Pakistan, he was very concerned about its security and welfare of its people. He firmly believed that peace in Karachi was a necessary condition for the tranquillity of the country as a whole.
DR MEHTAB ALI SHAH