Reconnecting to the past
Reviewed by Shamim-ur-Rahman
Courtesy: daily dawn, Sunday, 04 Oct, 2009
Dedicated to the memory of Pakistan’s assassinated leader, Benazir Bhutto, the book presents impressions gathered by a peace activist from the province of Sindh about India, its people and the challenges facing developing countries in general.
The writer had travelled to New Delhi to participate in a conference on ‘Universalising Socio-Economic Security in South Asia’ held from February 17 to 20, 2008, at a time when Pakistan was going through the electoral process minus Bhutto.
It is interesting that the writer being a Sindhi chose to write the travelogue in Urdu and has done well in conveying his point of view in simple language.
The book also contains useful information about some leading Sindhi personalities in different walks of life as many chose to seek refuge in India, owing to the blood-bath that followed partition.
Stressing the need for universalising social justice, Zulfiqar Halepoto endorses the views held by the World Social Forum and World Economic Forum. He is opposed to the neo-liberal agenda which has resulted in imbalanced globalisation.
Like all peace activists connected with NGOs he also emphasises the need for creating a world free from hunger and poverty, unemployment, discrimination and injustice, terrorism and wars. He is in favour of a world where democratic principles and human rights are respected and practiced in spirit.
While dealing with the new world economic order the writer maintains that globalisation had seriously affected governing structures. Taking a historical view he says that in different phases state structure had been revolving around different power structures. But in the present phase of history it was influenced by economic power. He believes that as economy has become globalised the world is moving towards a global state structure.
He is also of the view that in the process we are laying the foundation of a new exploitative world order dominated by IMF, NAFTA, GATT and other international financial institutions.
Zulfiqar Halepoto has rejected the traditional concept of security which is dependent on the maintenance of a huge military establishment armed with lethal, conventional and nuclear weapons. He believes that the traditional concept of territorial security was not the right approach and has raised the fundamental issue by asking whether complete security is really possible.
While in Delhi he visited the graves of Mirza Ghalib, Amir Khusro, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, Abul Kalam Azad and others. He was so overwhelmed at Ghalib’s final resting place that he decided to write his travelogue in Urdu.
He had also the opportunity to meet some leading Sindhis who had migrated to India and had settled there after partition. He met Sindhi writer, columnist and formerly an employee of Times of India, Lachman Komal Bhatia, who has written a book on migration to India in 1947. He has referred to his meeting with another Sindhi, Ram Jethmalani who was once deputy chief of the Indian Navy. His daughter is a leading fashion designer of India.
There are many others whom he met during this visit. His meeting with Khushwant Singh is very interesting who had decided to meet him, despite his old age, only because he had come from the land of Benazir Bhutto and wanted to hear about her.
He also recalls the account of a few Indians about Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto. Wing Commander Nandlal while giving his impression of ZAB at Simla said he was very confident despite being the leader of a defeated country.
The writer has also spelt out his conversation with the common Indians who were grieved at Benazir’s assassination.
By Zulfiqar Halepoto
Fiction House, Lahore