I am an Indian who came to Pakistan for the Track II dialogue. Here's what I think
The coolie handed over our luggage to us as we stepped out of our bus. We were directed to carry our luggage on the straight road divided vertically until we see a horizontal line. Beyond that line and the gate, there were coolies waiting impatiently. We approached them and started negotiating in the same language that we used with their counterparts who had seen us off.
It was a strange feeling, for we had just landed in a new country.
I witnessed a physical similarity and a sense of great familiarity, while travelling along the straight road that disconnects yet connects the two nations.
India-Pakistan: A dichotomous relationship
This apparent contradiction is a defining feature of the India-Pakistan relationship. Even though the two states hesitate to issue visas, creating endless hurdles to restrict entry, the immigration centres have a different tale to tell. It was pleasantly surprising to find a board in devanagari that read Aagaman (‘arrival’ in chaste Hindi) at the Pakistan immigration centre, welcoming the Indian visitors.
Such is the relationship between India and Pakistan, between the states and between the people — a dichotomous relationship of conflict and cooperation, of hatred and curiosity, of suspicion and trust.
My experience in Pakistan, for the second time, majorly comprised the latter set of emotions. It was a Track II Bilateral Dialogue that brought me to Islamabad, Pakistan, that I had often heard being referred to as ‘one of the world’s most beautiful capitals’.
The dialogue was a meeting of concerns, of thoughts and people who share a religion, and that of compassion. The dialogue debunks the notion of “peace is one-sided” quite substantially, and signifies its dominance on both sides.
Newfound friendships & warm encounters in Pakistan
The warmth, however, was not restricted to this particular hall. I visited the Lok Virsa museum with a newfound friend and went to a shop to buy some gifts. The shopkeeper started suggesting some good gifting options, unaware of where I was from.
He showed me several options while trying to convince by highlighting the details on the make. As I haggled about the prices, he assured me, “Aap aaj aayi hain, dobara aayengi” (You will come again to buy more). I started looking at the keychains when he suggested that I get them for my friends and encourage the local handicraft.
Later, he asked me, “Aap yaha se nahi hai, kaha se aayi hain?” (You don’t seem to be from here, where have you come from?).
I replied, “Main India se aayi hu” (I have come from India). He was visibly shocked and immediately blurted out, “Par..aap..Urdu..” (But you are speaking Urdu).
他向我展示了几种礼物，同时强调了制作的细节，试图说服我。当我跟他讨价还价时，他向我保证:“Aap aaj aayi hain, dobara aayengi”(你下次肯定会再来选购的)。当他建议我把钥匙链送给我的朋友，我开始看钥匙链。
后来，他问我:“Aap yaha se nahi hai, kaha se aayi hain?”(你好像不是本地人，你从哪里来?)
我回答说:“se aayi hu”(我来自印度)。他显然很震惊，立刻脱口而出:“Par. aap. Urdu.”(但你说的是乌尔都语)。
We then exchanged thoughts on how the spoken Hindi of India and the spoken Urdu of Pakistan are highly similar — almost the same, except a few words. Still confused, the shopkeeper gave me the discount that I had asked for earlier. He even reconfirmed, from my friend, if I was really from India. As we started to leave, he interrupted, “Ek minute rukiye” (Wait for a moment). He asked me to choose a bracelet. To my surprise, he said, “Aapko yaad rahein..” (As a memory).
I responded, “Agar gift hai to aap khud select karein” (If it is a gift then you select one).
He looked at the bracelets, tried to narrow it down to one, and then took out an elaborately-done bracelet for me.
然后，我们就印度的印地语和巴基斯坦的乌尔都语是如何高度相似交换了看法——除了少数几句话之外，几乎一模一样。店主很困惑，但还是给了我要求的折扣。他甚至向我的朋友确认，我是否真的来自印度。我们正要离开时，他打断了我们的话，“Ek minute rukiye”(请稍等)。他让我选了一个手镯。令我惊讶的是，他说:“Aapko yaad rahein..(留作纪念吧)。
我回答说:“Agar gift hai to aap khud select karein”(如果这是礼物，那么你帮我选一个吧)。
Friendship & love across the border
While his gesture was truly unforgettable and precious, a friend later told me that it wasn’t that uncommon with countless stories by Indian and Pakistani visitors of having received such warmth in the ‘other’ country.
Many such incidents followed. In the lobby, I had a conversation with a bell staff. After expressing his amusement on discovering my nationality, he was quite outspoken with the other staff about it. He told his colleagues, “She has come from Delhi”.
The other staff person asked me about my experience and said, “We also wish to visit India, visit Delhi and Agra and go to Kapil Sharma’s show.”
I laughed and expressed my hope for his wish to be fulfilled. He then asked my name and to my surprise, he was among the rare group of people who can pronounce my name correctly. To this, he replied, “Your name appeared twice in CID (an Indian TV serial)!”
The role of common people in encouraging peace talks
We often ponder about the role that common people can play in international relations when the deliberations often limit their role. It is important that the people understand how the conflict is tearing both our countries apart and how it is affecting each one of us. People of India and Pakistan not only share a language, a culture, love for Bollywood movies or Coke Studio, but (unfortunately), they also share the same socio-economic challenges.
It is important that we pressurise or support our states to talk, despite the hurdles. We need to support the voices of peace, for it is the only path to sanity.
译文来源：三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/48140.html 译者：Joyceliu
Wish you good luck &a warm welcome.People all over wants peaceful co-existence.
Tell BJP about your trip, telling us in DAWN wouldn't make a diddly difference.
Factually the stakes are high in maintaining friendship, let there be easy trade & travel. Let there be uniform regional approach. Once the benefits exceed losses, there will be harmony.
I hope one day two countries would be friends and people would be free to travel anywhere in either country.
We have same ancestral blood trail. The sooner we come closer is the better.
riaz u alvi
i was born in allahabad and had early education in u.p a pakistan american would like to visit but declined with no reason why it is so.
Pakistan always welcome Indians but never get similar response even here is chatroom Indians put comments against Pakistan all the time and support Indian promoted terrorism.
"People of India and Pakistan not only share a language, a culture, love for Bollywood movies or Coke Studio," Not at all true. India has a lot of languages like Marathi, Bengali, Oriya. tamil. Telegu etc. And not everyone watches stupid Bollywood movies
@Changez Khan, - "Tell BJP about your trip, telling us in DAWN wouldn't make a diddly difference."
Please do not tell this to the BJP, they will label you unpatriotic and anti-India.
@Changez Khan， -“跟印度人民党说说你的旅行见闻吧，在黎明报上说得再热闹也没用。”
Glad you had a great experience! Come back again
We Pakistanis are welcoming people, it is part of our DNA. Infact I have met much more hospitality within the Muslim World then in any Western country. I have spent time with Indians and my experience has been mixed but one thing has been common: they dont like spending money on you like we Pakistanis do on our friends.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I always say, there is no country, other than India, on earth where a Pakistani would feel more at home and the same is true for our Indian brothers and sisters visiting Pakistan. All we need is for people to people contact to increase. We need to have visa on arrival facility for citizens of both countries. We lived together for 1000s of years, why make these 70 years of propaganda overshadow the co-existence of 1000s of years?
Just read the forums on this paper. You will quickly realize how much we hate each other.
people to people contact can succeed in bringing peace where go nments cant let the people of both nations show their go nments how friendship is done
Dear ms Devika Welcome and thsnks for your feelings Please do come again And send one more Indian to this part of border And ask him or her to repeat this process Till every single Indian visits Pakistan Though a slow process but a sure process In bringing peace
Hate will never win. Love and friendship is in our DNA and will always triumph despite mutual bouts of insanity.
This is not the first time someone has written an article like this. Feelings are mutual on both sides, a number of Pakistani people have also expressed similar feelings after a visit to India. I have read many articles like this before. People to people contact should be encouraged but is there anyway we can get rid of that animosity that exists on both sides of the border and live in harmony like good neighbours.
Dr Kabutaruddin, Mumbai
Politicians should mature. We the common people on both sides know how much love and respect we get from other side. My prayers for a peaceful Indo-Pak relations and normalcy in the region with very high trust just like families.
Happy that you had a good experience.
Jamil Soomro, New York City
Although the article by Ms.Devika Mittal is extremely short her message astoundingly is deep of pure sanity,love and cordiality.A good message for people who strongly believe in reality.
Thank you for sharing such a wonderful experience. Warm welcome. The people on both sides, do not want any enmity. The most powerful in the power (go nment, corporations, military, etc.) don't want either side to get too close, or they will loose their grip on power. The people lose out on both sides, at the end. The warm friendly relations between the two countries will benefit the common people of both sides tremendous. India will gain by peace in whole India, including Kashmir, where Kashmiris in India will realize that Pakistan and India are now friends and there is no need to feel estranged in India anymore. In other words, borders will not matter much, just like Between European countries or US and Canada, border does not matter much, people cross it on cars everyday. Pakistan will benefit by gaining great trade potential and so will India. When will this happen, Hopefully, God Willing, Sooner rather than later.
People to people contact might work, trade might benefit both countries but the political leadership does n't have courage to tackle the" core "issue.
Asif A. Shah
Thank you for sharing your experiences in Pakistan. I also dream of the day when I will be able to go Indian Punjab by just showing my identity card.
Thank you dear author for coming to Pakistan. The people who suffer human rights abuses at the hands of the Indian go nment and military are ordinary flesh and blood humans like you and I. They are being forced in to a life of oppression and state sponsored terrorism. I wonder how these people who are patrons of this abuse sleep in their beds comfortable with themselves and and how they wake up comfortable with their own existence. Let's settle our issues and let's let these people BE.
At Individual level you can afford to be emotional as level of loss benefit is small but at national level you can't be emotional fools.
Make a peace with India is important on equal basis with resolution of Kashmir according to wishes of kahsmeri people and UNO resolution .
Of course the Pakistanis you meet are going to be nice. The dispute between the two countries is about border and politics.
Mujhe Kyun Nikala - Canada
Thank you Ms Mittal for writing and expressing your viewpoint and feelings so truthfully and honestly. Love from Canada.
My son just sent me an email few minutes ago that he had safely arrived at Lahore. My 23 year old son was born in USA and is attending Oxford and has taken South East Asian Studies as his masters subject. Despite my strict efforts, the young man did not learn Urdu and the Oxford told him that this would be one of the mandatory subject. He wanted to go to India and was selected in a Urdu class in Lucknow in this summer vacation. To cut the story short, he applied for Indian visa at the London office with a US passport. He was told innumerable excuses, and finally he was granted a visa. The next day, he was called back and his visa was cancelled. His only fault was that his both parents were born in Pakistan albeit his grand parents both born in India. This young man has no hand in the foreign policy of Pakistan and knows little about the history, geography and prevailing conditions in both the countries.