Monday, March 3, 2008
CROSSING THE WAGAH BORDER TO FREEDOM
PAKISTAN RETURNS KASHMIR TO INDIA
By Manuwant Choudhary
A free man... after spending 35 years in a Pakistani prison on charges of espionage Kashmir Singh returns to India across the Wagah border to his wife, family and freedom.
Kashmir Singh, a former policeman turned electronic goods trader, was arrested in Rawalpindi in 1973 and later convicted of espeionage and put on death row.
He never saw the sky or a single visitor in 35 years.
Its only when Mr. Ansar Burney, a social activist and human rights minister, heard about him and found him and argued for his release that Kashmir Singh got this Presidential pardon.
But this story is not just about one man....there are thousands of Indian prisoners of war's in Pak prisons which the Pakistan government denies.
Its routine for both India and Pakistan to arrest each others citizens who stray across the border.
This story is more important than India's nuclear deal with the United States.
This story is more important that the Indian communists threat to pull down its own government.
This story is more important than the image-makeover of Pakistan President Parvez Musharraf.
Kashmir Singhs story shows the artificial nature of our border ...that our people are really one...that this great land was cleverly partitioned by the departing British rulers only so that they could have a stake in our politics.
The message at Wagah today is that we must forget the past and build on a new future.
The message at Wagah today is about love.
The message at Wagah today is how great India and Pakistan can be if they want to.
The message at Wagah today is there is hope.
I wish I was at Wagah today to welcome Kashmir Singh.