'India, Pakistan cannot afford hostilities' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘India, Pakistan cannot afford hostilities’

Perwez Abdullah

Karachi: The main hurdle in normalising relations between India and Pakistan is the distrust that is entrenched deep in our psyche, said veteran Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar while speaking at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Friday.

Nayar, who is leading an Indian delegation of journalists, parliamentarians and social activists, told the media that his vision extended from a simple friendship to long-lasting peace between the two countries. “I have a vision of one free South Asian Market that would turn our region into a vibrant economy. With so many people living in South Asia, it will be a tremendous market and might become the guiding light and dominant partner to the existing strong economies,” he said.

The delegation is visiting Pakistan ahead of the March 28 meeting of the Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries in New Delhi.

Nayar suggested that the mistrust and bad blood that exists between the two countries could only be eradicated if the history of the subcontinent is written again, truthfully and without any religious bias. “It is a fact that Muslims in India suffered after the creation of Pakistan. It was a reaction, though misplaced, that they had anything to do with the division. Now the scenario has changed. Many people, belonging to various segments of Indian society, sincerely wish that Pakistan wriggles out of its current quagmire. It is a great change in the mindset of Indian people and I can say that it is the same with people in Pakistan,” he said warmly.

He reminded the audience that a strong and stable Pakistan was in the interest of India and that was why the latter could not afford to continue its hostilities. “We have democracy that may not be perfect and secularism is taking its roots as well. Pakistan needs the same. Secularism and democracy go side by side. We have no other option. We must continue with our efforts for peace and not lose heart. Our future generations would enjoy the fruits of our labour,” he believed.

A former Member of the Indian parliament (Rajya Sabha) and current editor of Urdu daily Naya Daur, Muhammad Shahid Siddiqui, said that certain elements in both countries would constantly try to derail the peace process. “I was one of many journalists from India who accompanied Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to Pakistan. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Gandhi worked hard to agree on various issues between the two countries. The problem of Siachen Glacier was almost solved. However, it never materialised because there was some unseen opposition in India and the government of Benazir Bhutto was toppled,” he recalled.

Siddiqui pointed his finger towards the countries that were supplying arms to both India and Pakistan. “These countries want the two countries suffering from hunger and deprivation to continue buying arms and use them against each other. Peace between India and Pakistan is a nightmare for these dealers of death.

He relished the fact that media, especially the electronic media in both the countries, was doing much to help the normalisation or relations. “We should continue our struggle for this noble cause.”

An MP from Mumbai and former vice chancellor of Bombay University, Dr Bhal Chandra Mungekar, conceded that India and Pakistan had problems, but he argued that now the majority of people in India wanted a positive change in the relationship. “The two countries share culture and civilisation. We are two nations, but the people are one. Why remain on the warpath for such a long time? With 35 and 39 percent population in India and Pakistan living below the poverty line, the continued hostility is absurd. Kashmir is a problem, but there is no problem that does not have a solution. The West has woken up after two disastrous world wars. It is time for us to come out of this perpetual state of war,” he advised.

An MP from South India, Prof Yarlagadda Laxmi Prasad, said that people in North India and Pakistan had bonds of language and culture. However, the people in South India had no such relation. “It was a fact finding mission for me. Now I like to have more interaction with Pakistani people. It is a sheer pleasure for me,” he remarked.

Jatin Desai, a Mumbai-based journalist, told the press that an agreement on Sir Creek was nearly finalised after a joint hydrological survey of the coast of both countries, but somehow it was torpedoed again. “But we have not lost our will. We will continue our struggle for peace,” he concluded.

Social activists Mazhar Hussain, Haris Qidwai, Krishna Rao and Ramesh Yadav are also the part of the delegation.
Source: The News
Date:3/19/2011