Pakistanis pay tribute to Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar

Pakistanis pay tribute to Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar
Joint Independence Day celebrations at Wagah: Kuldip Nayar, Nandita Das, Asma Jahangir. File photo (undated)

The passing away of the veteran journalist, political activist and peacemonger Kuldip Nayar has evoked great sadness as well as a resolve to keep working for his values not only in India but the land of his birth, Pakistan.

The “gentle giant of India Pakistan peace” as his long-time friend and fellow-activist Dr Syeda Hameed has termed him, is a loss not just for his family and friends and activists in India but also for his friends, followers and admirers in Pakistan.

I had got to know him over the years through the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) that I joined as a young journalist from Lahore when it was launched in 1994-95, as the largest people-to-people organization between the two countries.

Kuldip Nayar’s role as a journalist, as a parliamentarian and as a peace monger are too well known to be recounted here. Less known may be his personal efforts on behalf of an elderly Pakistani prisoner Dr Chishty who had been languishing in India for 20 years.

The last time I met him was at Allahabad train station a few years ago, with lawyer S.M.A. Kazmi and Zia ul Haq — the comrade, not the general, himself now over 90. They were dropping me off and picking him up. He got the surprise of his life. We didn’t have much time to chat as my train was about to leave but I treasure that memory.

Artist and art educator Salima Hashmi remembers Kuldip Nayar as a friend of my father, the poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz “and a comrade in the struggle for peace between India and Pakistan”. Having been with him in several initiatives for peace, she says he “will be forever remembered and celebrated for his passionate commitment”.

For the peace activist Syeda Diep, the visionary journalist who initiated the Pakistan India people to people dialogue and supported every peace initiatives between Pakistan and India was particularly special.  “May you rest in Peace, “ she tweeted. “I lost father today.”

Former information minister Mushahid Hussain paid tribute to Nayar as “best friend of Pakistan in India, great loss to peace & good neighbourliness in South Asia; Sialkot-born, he loved Lahore, took part in first Pakistan-India Track 2 held in Islamabad in 1984”.

“We express our deep sorrow and condolences on the demise of Kuldip Nayar, a great advocate of peace between India and Pakistan,” said activist Farooq Tariq‏.

Journalist Mazhar Abbas‏ tweeted “The first journalist who interviewed A. Q. Khan is no more. Kuldip Nayar, an outstanding journalist who had always written on peace between Pakistan and India and played his role as a peace lover”.

Another journalist Azaz Syed who had interviewed Nayar in Islamabad has “read and taught his books to (his) University students”

Well known television journalist Hamid Mir says Kuldip Nayar had invited him to come to India “to discuss a new peace strategy” – something that is still direly needed.

Human rights advocate Asad Jamal‏ comments that few people in South Asia can match Kuldip Nayar’s wisdom. “He was a true proponent of peace. Despite having been permanently & painfully displaced in 1947, he always avoided giving a verdict on the partition.”

Lawyer Alizeh Haider, daughter of the late advocate Syed Iqbal Haider tweeted that her father and Kuldip Nayar “shared many dreams of love & friendship” between South Asian countries, specially India and Pakistan and “committed yourself to working tirelessly for it despite the odds. You will be missed!”

— Beena Sarwar

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