They say stories of great consequence start as a simple tale. Like Adam wishing to taste wheat, Mohammed (peace be upon him) visiting mount Hira or Jesus taking out his herd of sheep. The story of the making of Pakistan is by no means any less dynamic yet simple.

It all started in 1947, with the first decision made by the first migrant to leave their homeland of centuries and travel to a new land called Pakistan.

But who were these people? Who gave their lives in the silence of nights and did not even whimper? Who were the hordes of people who by a simple twist of fate, got entwined in a journey directed towards one collective destination? For they came in large numbers all carrying one simple dream of ideals and values on which they would put the foundations of a new country.

It was in the lap of my grandmother that I first heard the grand story of the great migration from India to Pakistan.

Like a typical grandmother she adored me, and would tell me bedtime stories putting me in her lap, or while holding my hand as she tucked me into bed.  But also like a very typical child, (I have been told), I was always quite inquisitive about my surroundings and would often request my story tellers, to tell me “real life” stories rather than made up “fairy tales”.

But was it a wonder of all wonders that this “real story” of my grandmother’s brother stuck in India, being betrayed by his best friend, hiding in barrels of gun powder, running between armed men, sneaking in bushes and then finally appearing in Pakistan after months when his family had thought him dead sounded more dramatic and powerful than Cinderella’s slipper being lost at the Prince’s castle?

I still remember gazing into my grandmother’s deep green eyes, which will go wet the moment she will start talking about the time of migration. It sounded like an amazing story then. And years down the lane, as I sat down to work on my new project of compiling the stories of a common man during partition and subsequent migration, the stories though all different, seemed to have sprung from the same basic story of sacrifice that I had heard in my childhood. Why did it all sound so familiar?

Because truth touches the chords like nothing else does.

The truth remains that the story that was narrated to me by my grandmother as a child is one of the thousands of stories sprawled like a web throughout Pakistan and even beyond the border. The stories of sacrifice, of lost brothers, of raped sisters, of lost friends, of betrayals and of a promise of a better tomorrow and a new homeland. Whether we succeeded in fulfilling that dream is a painful debate for another day, today is a day of celebration of that unmatchable spirit that breathed in the bosoms of our forefather.

Their journey, which started 65 years ago from India to Pakistan, was based on a collective dream of freedom and was written in blood. It was my quest to look for those unsung heroes who all participated in the creation of our beautiful country that first brought me to work in Pakistan from England, and the same search has resulted in my programme tonight, Manzil Pakistan, based on real life stories of people alive in 1947.

The partition of India was set forth in the Indian Act of 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of the British Indian Empire and the end of the British Raj. It resulted in a struggle between the new states of India and Pakistan and displaced up to 12.5 million people with estimates of loss of life varying from several hundred thousand to a million (most estimates of the numbers of people who crossed the boundaries between India and Pakistan in 1947 range between 10 and 12 million).  The violent nature of the partition created an atmosphere of mutual hostility and suspicion between India and Pakistan that plagues the relationship of the two countries even to this day.

Such has been the impact of that vast movement more than six decades ago. I listened to a number of stories in the last two weeks during the filming of the programme, “manzil Pakistan”.  How people were willing to give up their homes and neighborhood in the search for a new homeland. Be it the story of now 71 years old Abdul Shakoor who started off on the journey with eleven family members from India but ended up being the sole survivor in Pakistan or that of  68 years old Wakeela Begum who saw as a young girl on the fateful journey the gory scenes of her parents butchered in front of her young eyes. The stories are all sad, poignant and all eerie because of their truthfulness.

Pakistan to these people was not just a piece of land, it was home to a nation. So what exactly happened in the summers of 1947 that collectively tied a group of people in the identity of one nation? It was the uniting factor of the same religion. One God, one prophet, one region so one country. It was a simple message. And certainly one based on voracity otherwise, countries do not come in existence accidentally. What happened in 1947 is depicted by Stanley Wolpert in “Jinnah of Pakistan”,

“Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.”

Yes, he did all three and so did all the silent warriors and martyrs who make the bloody history of partition. Whose dust has now turned back to dust.

Standing at Wahga border which I visited recently for the filming of my fourteenth August show, I compiled a fistful of dust, and threw it at the gates which mark the border between India and Pakistan. It was a heavy sacrifice laid on our shoulders 65 years ago by those who are now gone with the wind. But had it not been for them, I would have never been able to turn my back proudly today to the Indian gate and walk tall on the road to home. Home in this case is of course Pakistan.

Programme Manzil Pakistan will be show in Eight PM with Fe’reeha Idrees tonight on Waqt News.