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Hindus, don’t leave your soil, please – Mohammad Ali Mahar

Why should Hindus be forced to leave the soil they inhabited since time immemorial? What is their fault?

Los Angeles, August 17, 1988. On the fateful day Genera Ziaul Haq’s plane exploded in the air above Bahawalpur, I was in Los Angeles. Adam Leghari, my friend who unfortunately died young, was my host for the day. At around 9:30 pm, while discussing politics as usual, he asked me if I wanted to meet Jaggat Bhatia, an eminent lawyer and a childhood friend of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Excited, we drove half an hour to where he lived. When we pressed the buzzer it was already past 10 pm and from the darkness surrounding the house I could deduce that the residents were asleep. After a little wait the door opened a bit and an enraged man looking at us from behind the chain yelled, “Who are you and what do you want at this hour?” We told him we were Sindhi students and wanted to meet him to talk about his early days in Sindh and his friendship with Mr Bhutto. The elderly gentleman still trembling with anger let us in saying he could not spare more than 15 minutes.

As we sat down in his lavishly furnished living room, the first thing Mr Bhatia said, “If you are here to talk against Pakistan, then leave this moment. I cannot hear a single word against my country. I love it and have been fighting for it all my life. I will not let Pakistan be harmed.” It was only after our assurances that we were not there to talk against Pakistan that he loosened up. We ended up spending more than two hours with him upon his insistence. All through the meeting, he kept talking about Pakistan — sometimes tears flowing down his cheeks — and his days in Karachi where he lived in the Clifton area. I would not have believed his emotions thinking he was behaving thus due to the fear of the agencies had I not known that we were in the USA and not Pakistan.

Chicago, 1988. I was visiting Chicago and I had borrowed the car from Lal Chand Jagwani, my best friend to this day, to drive to Chicago. The people we stayed with advised us to remove all the valuables from the car before parking it in the street overnight because Chicago was not a safe city. As I was emptying the glove compartment, I noticed a small book wrapped in a cloth cover; unwrapping it, I saw it was the Surah Yaseen. Upon return to Detroit, while returning the car I asked Lal whether he knew somebody had forgotten the Surah in his car. Lal laughed and said, “Why do you think so? Do you think that only you Muslims own the Quran? We, Sindhi Hindus, respect and believe in the Quran and its blessings as much as you Muslims do.” Lal’s late father, Mehru Mal Jagwani was a great Pakistani who contested and won elections in Pakistan.

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