Personally for me, today’s is a memorable date. It was exactly on this day in 1947 that I left my birthplace Karachi for good. In these last 63 years since, I have visited Karachi only twice – first time in 1978, and the second time in 2005.
Gen.Musharraf of Pakistan was born in Delhi. When he visited Delhi in 2001 he had come here for the first time since independence. I referred to this in my very first interaction with him at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“Don’t you think it unfortunate” I said, “that in these over five decades after 1947 you are visiting your birthplace for the first time, and that I have also been able to visit Karachi, my home city, only once (my second visit as indicated earlier came later)!”
In that first meeting with the General, while exchange of pleasantries about our days at St. Patrick’sHigh School, Karachi where both of us had studied, created some little cordiality, my suggestion that a dramatic change could come about in Indo – Pak relations if Pakistan were to hand over Daud Ibrahim, the main accused (and absconder) in the 1993 serial blast case of Mumbai, precipitated quite a tense situation making Gen. Musharrafassertsharply : “Well, Mr. Advani, let me tell you, Daud Ibrahim is not in Pakistan”.
Every one of the nearly one dozen officials from India and Pakistan present at the meeting knew that the Pak President’s had resorted to a gross untruth.
In my own life, September month has yet another significance. As I have often said if there is one individual with whom I have been directly associated, and whom I have viewed as an ideal role model for all political activists, it is Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. His birthday falls on September 25. When in 1990 I decided to undertake a Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya where kar sewa had been announced for October 30, I decided to commence my journey on September 25.
I could not complete this yatra. I was arrested at Samastipur in Bihar on October 23, and flown by helicopter to Massanjore (Dumka District) to be kept there in detention on the Bihar – West Bengal border.
Since 1990 I have been visiting Somnath every year on September 25 to seek the blessings of Bhagwan Somnath, the foremost among the twelve jyotirlings. This month too I propose to go there on that date .This year would be the 20th anniversary of my Ram Rath Yatra, which has been a landmark event in my life.
What a remarkable coincidence it is that the Allahabad High Court has announced last week that the Bench considering the title suits relating to the Ayodhya dispute will pronounce its verdict on September 24, just on the eve of my visit to Somnath.
Everyone is keenly awaiting what the three-judge Bench of the High Court decides in respect of the several title suits before the Court.At a Parliamentary Party meeting some days back, I advised all MPs not to indulge in any speculations about the possible verdict and whatever be the outcome, let the party reaction be restrained and low-key.
For me personally, 9/12 and 9/25 may be important.But for the world, no other date this month can be more important than 9/11, namely, the 11th of September, 2001.
A year earlier, on the 14 September, 2000, Prime Minister Vajpayee in his address to the Joint Session of the U.S. Congress had said:
“No region is a greater source of terrorism than our neighbourhood.Indeed, in our neighbourhood –in this, the twenty-first century-religious war has not just been fashioned into, it has been proclaimed to be, an instrument of state policy.Distance and geography provide no nation immunity against international terrorism.You know, and I know: such evil cannot succeed.But even in failing it could inflict untold suffering.”
How prophetic were Vajpayee’s remarks!
In the ugly history of terrorism there has been nothing as earthshaking as the horrendous terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre, New York, and on the Pentagon, executed by hijacked aircraft used as missiles, causing the death of nearly 3000 people, more than one hundred of them Indians.
Yet another hijacked plane was intended to target the White House, but thanks to the valour and patriotism of the passengers on board, the terrorist designs were thwarted and the plane crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania.
In January 2002, I undertook a trip to the United States of America.During my stay in New York, I visited Ground Zero commemorating 9/11, and paid tribute to the unflinching determination of the Americans to defend their nation in the face of the worst ever terrorist attack in human history.
Later addressing a Press Conference at the Indian Embassy in Washington DC, I described India and USA as the twin towers of democracy and added: “The terrorists may have destroyed the steel and concrete structures of the World Trade Centre, but they can never harm the structures and the spirit of our two democracies.”
12 September, 2010