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Gujral: a man of vision

December 12, 2012

One of India’s former prime ministers, I. K. Gujral, recently died at the age of 93.

He hailed from Jhelum district, and had his early education on this side of the border. I had the pleasure of meeting him along with fellow cardiologists in December 1989 at Delhi on the occasion of the World Congress of Cardiology.

At that time Mr Gujral was foreign minister and the chief guest at one of the functions.

On knowing about the presence of the Pakistani delegation he was very pleased and met each one of us with great excitement and warmth.

He spoke with us in perfect Urdu and Punjabi. He was overwhelmed to see us on the Indian soil and asked us to visit each year.

In fact, he gave his personal direct phone numbers in case we needed any assistance while in India.

Mr Gujral was not just a politician, he was a statesman, a man of vision and a great intellectual.

He was a great advocate of India - Pakistan friendship. He was proud of his roots in our part of the subcontinent.

Mr Gujral also had a serious interest in art and literature.

He knew Iqbal and Ghalib more than any Pakistani politician.

His death is a great loss for those who believe in peace and humanity.

His services and efforts for India-Pakistan friendship will be long remembered.

Our Potohar region can be rightly proud to give two celebrated prime ministers to India, Mr Gujral and Dr Manmohan Singh.

PROF MOHAMMAD ISHAQ Karachi