SIALKOT: In the wake of the much-needed thaw in relations between Pakistan and India, a fascinating fact has come to light: Pakistan has its very own ‘India’ located a few kilometres from Sialkot city.

The pre-Partition village of Chak Bharat is a part of Sialkot’s union council of Shehni, about 25km from the city.

Housing the third generation of local families, this village of around 8,000 people serves as a memory of the division of the Indian subcontinent, said a villager, Muhammad Aslam. Before Partition, 10 per cent of the population of the village was Hindu, who migrated to India in August 1947.

Some villagers said they wished for durable peace between Pakistan and India, and urged the two governments to engage in meaningful and result-oriented talks to end decades-old conflicts and issues.

Aslam said: “We are loyal Pakistanis and want durable peace with India to which New Delhi must respond positively and ambitiously.”

Resident Bashir said they felt a unique kind of pleasure while entering the village; as if they had travelled to India even though the village was very much a part of Pakistan. They experienced a distinct emotion knowing they had their own India here on this side of the border.

Former Shehni Union Council chairman Malik Ziyafat Ali Awan, who is also a former vice chairman of the district council, said the entire population of the village consisted of Muslims, and it was surrounded by green fields. No one had ever objected to the name of this village, he added.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2018

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