Tale of Two Villages
Views from Srinagar
knew Sharif’s father and recalls his childhood memories. He has been to Lahore many times and enjoyed the hospitality of the family.
Far from what is seen about Pakistan in media particularly the TV channels, Jati Umra tells a story of unique bonhomie that hardly shows any inkling of a break up. For them it is a matter of pride that Sharif’s rule Pakistan. Them being in power has brought Jati Umra on the developmental map and it symbolizes the “cosy relationship” between the two ruling families – Badals in Indian Punjab and Sharifs in Pakistani Punjab.
A visit by Shahbaz Sharif in 2013 changed the face of the village as the government built a stadium, a water tank and laid out macadamized roads. The foundation stone in the village mentions Shahbaz’s name. Locals say that he wanted to donate a good amount for the works but could not do so due to some reasons. However, the Prakash Singh Badal government executed the plan to fulfill his wish.
When Shahbaz was in Jati Umra in December 2013 he turned emotional and wished he was born here. “We sat on the cots and sipped hot milk served by the villagers. My father was emotionally connected with this village because ours was the only Muslim family in this Sikhdominated village,” he recalled when he accompanied his father to the village in 1979. “It was destiny that my father migrated before Partition and I was born in Pakistan. Had my family not migrated to Pakistan I would have been the son of this village”. Though villagers take pride in owning the family, a well-kept grave of Mian Mohammad Baksh, great grandfather of Nawaz Sharif is the only sign of their belonging to the village. “They were rich people and their warmth was unmatchable,” Gian Singh told me adding that it was their duty to look after the grave.
When told that Nawaz Sharif was under going surgery in London, the villagers wished him speedy recovery with a hope to see him in Jati Umra some day. Like Jati Umra, a village in Chakwal district of Pakistani Punjab has also been in news for the same reason, attracting attention from the government.
But the newspaper reports suggest that the developmental projects taken by Pakistani government had been abandoned there. Gah is the village where former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was born. Singh’s school in Gah still holds an admission register and two of his report cards. The register shows his date of birth as February 4, 1932. Local villagers said that Manmohan was called “Mohana” by his close friends in the village.
I had a cursory look at the village in 2012. The villagers were happy that the development had knocked at their door after Manmohan Singh wrote to the then President Parvez Musharraf seeking his intervention.
The provincial government in Punjab built a decent