A Country I Would Love To Visit But Know I Never Will

A Country I Would Love To Visit But Know I Never Will

I have never visited Pakistan. I always wanted to visit the country, as I have heard so much about the beautiful places there.

I would like to visit Lahore, where my revered grandfather Dr. KN Katju, former Union Home and Law Minister in Nehru’s cabinet, went to as a student in 1900, and I would like to go to Rang Mahal High School and Forman Christian College where he had studied till around 1906. I would like to go to Anarkali Bazaar, of which I have heard so much. I would like to see the famous Badshahi Mosque built by the Mughal Emperors and bestowed with gifts by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. And of course, I would like to visit the Lahore High Court and meet my fraternity (lawyers and Hon’ble Judges) there. I was Chief Justice of Delhi High Court (before becoming Judge of the Indian Supreme Court), and since the Delhi High Court was an emanation from the Lahore High Court (before Partition appeals from Delhi District Court would go to the Lahore High Court) I can, in a sense, claim to be a former Chief Justice of that Court.

I would like to see Murree, which I am told is a beautiful hill station. I would like to see Karachi, where many people from my state UP (mohajirs) live. I would particularly like to meet Dr. Khalil Chishty, for whose release from Indian custody I fought a long, and ultimately successful, battle. I would like to see Peshawar, capital of the Kushan Empire and home to the Kanishka stupa. I would like to see Quetta, the Fruit Garden of Pakistan, Harappa and Mohenjodaro, and many other places.

Since apart from being a judge I was also associated with the media (having been Chairman of the Press Council of India) I would also like to meet brave journalists like Hasan Nisar, Najam Sethi, Imtiaz Alam ( whom I met in Delhi ), Muhammad Ziauddin (whom I met in Paris), Hamid Mir (who bravely faced many attacks and death threats), Raza Rumi and his associate Ailia Zehra (who are the only Pakistani journalists having the courage to publish my articles), Sajjad Azhar Peerzada, etc
But I know this is just a dream, since I am persona non grata with the Pakistan authorities, and will never get a visa.

Last year in the month of Ramzan I was invited to an Iftar dinner in Delhi by my good friend Kamal Morarka (a Mumbai businessman who gives an Iftar dinner every year in Delhi).

There, among other dignitaries, I was introduced to Mr. Sohail Mahmood, then Pakistan High Commissioner to India (and now the Pakistan Foreign Secretary). I told him of my keen desire to visit Pakistan as I had never been there, and he said Pakistan would be honoured to host a former Indian Supreme Court Judge, and he would make all arrangements. He gave me his visiting card, which had his email address and mobile number.

However, later, whenever I tried to call him he would not take my calls, and he would not respond to my emails.

My guess is he must have contacted his superiors in Islamabad, and they must have told him to keep away from me like the plague, because I call Pakistan a farzi (fake), artificial country, the two-nation theory bogus, Partition a historical British swindle, and want reunification of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh under a secular govt. I believe we are really one country, sharing the same culture, and were one for centuries since Mughal times.

Although I am absolutely sure that India and Pakistan (and Bangladesh) will reunite, like West and East Germany, my guess is that it will take 15-20 years, and I will not be around then (since I am already 74). So, I doubt I will ever see Pakistan.

Markandey Katju is a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. He was also the Chairman of the Press Council of India.