India and Pakistan, 25 Years from Now

indo-Pak-border

Time flies faster than fighter jets and faulty helicopters

F S Aijazuddin

ON December 9, Shahnaz and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. ‘Celebrated’ may be too strong a word. The Indo-Pak hostilities in 1971 which had begun the week earlier had reduced our marriage to a low-key nuptial. A week later, united, on Dec 16, we witnessed the divorce between West and East Pakistan.

Fifty years on, commemoration of our anniversary became another private occasion, bunkered this time during the ongoing battle against Covid-19.

December 1971 was a month punctuated with anxiety. The night before my wedding, I spent responding to the shrill summons of air-raid sirens warning the residents of Karachi of sorties by Indian planes. They flew over the unguarded city, guided by the flares of the blazing oil tanks in Keamari.

The brazen attack on the storage tanks made one painfully aware of our vulnerability. An obvious strategic target had been left unprotected. Once the conflagration began, it burned for days, making nonsense of the blackout imposed on the naked city. Our civil defence preparedness was next to naught. In the early hours that morning, an IAF plane flew almost at eye level with my flat window. The helmeted pilot was the first Indian I had seen in years.

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