As my friends protested in front of Pakistan embassy in Washington Sunday, in minus seven degrees Celsius, in a very novel way by gifting used shoes to Islamabad– one friend Najeeb Khan from New York even ordered a shoe online to send to the address “Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry, C/o#ChappalChorPakistan” to the embassy — my heart ached over thoughts of old Karachi.
The protestors raised slogans, “Chappal Chor Pakistan” “Pakistan is Taliban, Taliban in Pakistan,” “Where was bin Laden, Inside Pakistan,” “Pakistan ka matlab kiya, Amreeka say dollar laa, Hindustan kay jootay kha.” (What is the meaning of Pakistan, get free dollars from USA, and get shoe-slapped by India).
The protest was aimed at exposing Pakistan’s many wrongs, in the backdrop of the treatment the rogue state meted out to Cheetan and Avanti, spouse and mother of alleged Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav. Jadhav was sentenced to death by Field Court Martial General military court in Pakistan April 6, 2017, while being denied consular access by Islamabad. On India’s appeal, the International Court of Justice stayed his execution. ISI stealing of Cheetan’s shoes at Pakistan foreign ministry in Islamabad on Christmas day was the battle cry of Sunday’s protest.
Dhananjay Shevlikar, Secretary of the local chapter of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad-America said: “Because of this sort of behavior Pakistan has found itself on a US watch list. This behavior will lead to Pakistan’s own destruction.”
Said Krishna Gudipati, “Pakistan Army and ISI seem to be riding this tiger called proxies, but that tiger itself is taking a bite out of Pakistan,”
Carl Clemens, volunteer with several local community organizations, said policy makers, media and the public of respectable nations need to urgently address Pakistan spreading “the cancer of state-sponsored terrorism in the region and beyond.”
Soumya Sundar Chowdhury, who is from West Bengal, regretted, “The journalists were heckling Jadhav’s mother and wife when they went to meet him and that speaks volumes about Pakistan’s popular mindset.”
My mind was focused on the injustices meted out to Hindus from day one in the city where I spent more than 35 years of my life, Karachi– the world’s largest Baloch city, where my grandfather was the Amirul Qaum, or leader of Baloch, in the 1920-30s. In my mind’s camera, was the beautiful pink-colored Mohatta Palace in Karachi, property of Seth Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta, sprawling over 18,000 square yards, which was built 1927. Despite Mohatta’s appeals, the mansion was illegally occupied by Pakistan’s TB-ridden founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah to be turned into Pakistan’s foreign ministry.
Some people say Pakistan’s unjust founder Jinnah, who violated the Standstill Agreement with Balochistan and forcibly annexed the France-sized homeland of the Baloch on March 27, 1948 was secular; I say if Jinnah was secular then Osama bin Laden was the best democrat.
When Pakistan’s capital was shifted to Islamabad in 1960s, Mohatta Palace became the property of Jinnah’s sister, “Madar-i-Millat” or “Mother of Muslims All over the World” Fatima Jinnah. Jinnah himself was given the title “Quaid-i-Azam”or “leader of the entire world”– as if names can change the truth, just like the word Pakistan itself means “land of Pure”–, conceived in a Cambridge University dorm as “Pakstan” by a student Chaudhry Rehmat Ali.
The “Mother of Muslims all Over the World” was allegedly murdered, July 9, 1967 on the orders of then Pakistan dictator, “Field Marshall” Ayub Khan. After Ms Jinnah’s death, the other sister Shireen Jinnah came rushing from India to live in that palatial mansion, which also had a family temple devoted to Lord Shiva on the terrace.
Mohatta belonged to the Maheswari Hindu community from Rajasthan. Just last week, two Hindu brothers, grain merchants from the Maheswari community, Dileep Kumar and Chandar Kumar were killed in Mithi, Sindh, which is 200 miles east of Karachi but less than 100 miles from India’s border.
Paris of the East of yore — Karachi, now only commercial capital of Pakistan –, was Pakistan’s first capital in 1947. Prior to the Partition Holocaust, Karachi was primarily a Hindu controlled city where the majority population were ethnic Baloch. The city roads were not only swept but was washed each morning by the municipality, my parents, now deceased, used to tell me. Arts and culture flourished in the peaceful city.
My mom, now deceased, fondly remembered a great Hindu dancer, if I remember the name correctly, Vishnu Jagdesh. She migrated to Mumbai and married one of the Oberois after the partition tragedy. Her dance performances were highly appreciated by the closely knit local communities that existed at the time in Karachi, including Baloch, Sindhi, Dawoodi Bohras and Ismailis.
Partition Holocaust of August 1947, engineered by Lord Mounbatten, the favorite cousin of King George VI, the last viceroy of India changed everything drastically. My late father, a young businessman, had inherited rental apartments from his dad near the Jubilee Cinema. Prior to the 1947 holocaust, his tenants used to be Sindhi Hindu middle class shopkeepers, who had shops nearby in commercial areas of old Karachi like Kharadar.
“They were all so nice and polite. Always used to give their rent on time,” my dad, now deceased, who was totally apolitical told me. “After partition, the Hindus left and my new tenants were Muslims from India. They would never give rent on time,” my dad told me.“One day when I went to collect rent they cussed me and threatened me ‘The peaceful grass eaters have gone. We are beef eaters like you, we are going to show you’,” my father said, adding, “That day I realized what a monster Jinnah has created.” The British made Jinnah the founder of Pakistan, even though he had no connections with the local communities in what is Pakistan today.
A young Sindhi man at the time was Sree Lal Krishna Advani, now 90, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party and former deputy prime minister of India, According to the BJP. “Advaniji was born on November 8, 1927, and grew up in pre-Partition Sindh. As a student in St.Patrick’s School, Karachi, his patriotic ideals inspired him to join the Rashtriya Swayamasevak Sangh (RSS) at the mere age of fourteen.
“Advani Ji’s celebration of India’s independence from the British in 1947 was sadly short lived as he became one of the millions to be torn from his homeland amidst the terror and bloodshed of the tragedy of India’s partition.”
Advani Ji, who visited Karachi birthplace in summer 2005, when he was opposition leader in the Indian parliament, was gracious to receive my call way back in fall 2006. While Advani Ji made his mark in Indian politics, quite a few Sindhi Hindus who went to India at the time of partition are today in the billionaires club of the emerging world power.
One Sindhi Hindu who was about six years younger than Advani Ji but had left his birth city of Karachi Ram Gangaram Gehani to go to India. Gehani who lives in DC suburbs and regularly attends community events, fondly remembers his volunteerism at the age of 13 and knew Advani Ji even then. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was Gehani’s guest when he first visited USA in the 1980s.
When Sindhi Hindu businessmen and bureaucrats were in control, Karachi had a small but vibrant Jewish community and a Jewish man named Abraham Reuben was on the city council. There was also a Jewish synagogue, which was vandalized after the first Arab-Israeli war. The Jewish community silently disappeared, even though there is a Jewish graveyard in Karachi.
One woman who played a major role in the creation of Pakistan was Lady Sugrah Hidaytullah, the wife of the first chief minister and first governor of Sindh, after the 1947 holocaust. She was also friends with Fatima Jinnah, sister of Jinnah. Late Lady Hidayatullah, in an interview with me many years ago, was full of remorse over the creation of Pakistan.
In Pakistan itself, the Hindu plight was compounded by state policy of abductions, rape, and conversions, however. According to Professor Saswati Sarkar, “When Pakistan was created in 1947, Hindus constituted about 15 per cent of the population of West Pakistan (current Pakistan); by 1998 it is about 1.6 per cent (p. 76, Hindus in South Asia and the Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights 2013) – the population has declined by about 90 per cent in about 50 years. This decimation is the outcome of sustained legal and social discrimination ever since the creation of Pakistan.”