March 2006 News

Pugwash Delegates Shop In Pak

16 March 2006
The Indian Express

Jammu: For Pugwash participants from this side, the trip was an exploration of Pakistan - its food, books, films, suits and bazaars - apart from discussions on Kashmir dispute. The participants of Pugwash conference, held in Islamabad recently, not only nurture the memories of meeting high-profile Pakistani dignitaries but also loves to recall their tryst with common man on streets of Lahore. As one of the participants put it: What I remember the most is interaction with common man, their warmth and yearning for peace. Most of the delegates during their sojourn went on a shoping binge in Lahore's heart - Anarkali bazaar - probabaly to keep it as souvenir. It is in Anarkali bazaar wherefrom the participants had most of their shopping. All they picked up from the bazaar were ladies suits, duppatas, green coloured Onyx stones, books, cassettes and CDs. And the shopping spree has its effect too. Atleast, it seems the duppatas from Lahore has changed once Pakistan-basher Nirmal Singh. He admits of discovering different Pakistan. 'I saw a different Pakistan where common man is not bothered much about the Kashmir issue.' He bought some duppatas from Pakistan. Nirmal is of opinion that the younger generation in Pakistan is much pragmatic.'They (new generation) want to march ahead and have a feeling that the Kashmir issue has impeded their growth,' he observed. He also sees Musharraf's line on violence percolatinmg down to masses.'Common man like Musharraf beleives that violence has no role in solving the Kashmir issue and can be solved only through a dialogue process,' Singh, who was on his first ever visit to Pakistan, said. It was not all about shopping but also of some good food. Shohab Innayat Malik, whose maternal uncle Prof Kherat Mohammad is the vice chancellor of the prestigious Leeds University at Lahore and hosted a special dinner for the delegates in which he had invited five vice chancellors from different universities of Pakistan. Shohab, who bought some ladies suits and a suitcase from Pakistan, could not hide his emotions.'It was more than a conference for most of us here. They are just like us and want to live in peace and harmony. They want to come here to see how we live here,' he said. Happymon Jacob, who bought some books and Movie CDs from Pakistan, said, 'I was surprised they commoners didn't ask me questions about Kashmir issue. They were more interested in whether India looks like what they see on the MTV channel, Zoom Channel or Star TV programmes, the channels which are available there.', he said. Sharing her experiences, Prof Posh Charak said that while she was shopping some suits in Lahore, some Pakistani ladies came forward and said that 'they liked the Lakhnavi suit I was wearing and asked me if they come to India they would like to shop for similar suits'. Prof Posh Charak stressed that she was surprised that there is almost no difference between the two sides. 'The markets look the same, the faces look similar and even the cultures are more or less alike.' Dr Meenakshi Kilam sees a begining in the conference. 'The journey was just a beginning, now the time has come that when Pakistani students will be coming here and students from here will go to Pakistan for studies,' she said.


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