No announcement yet.

Can India and Pakistan be friends?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Can India and Pakistan be friends?
    Dr David Taylor speaks to Muna Khan on the possibility of easing tensions between India and Pakistan

    Dr David Taylor has been on the faculty of the School of Oriental and African Studies since 1970, where he is Senior Lecturer in Politics and Pro-Director for Taught Courses. Educated at the Universities of Cambridge and London, Dr Taylor has made many visits to Pakistan and India.

    Q: Can Pakistan and India be friends?

    A: First they have to ask what are the reasons for the hostilities between them. One immediately comes to Kashmir. Then one needs to ask what Kashmir symbolises. I think that Kashmir has come to symbolise different things to different generations; for people around 55-60 years of age it still represents something to do with Partition, with the disruptions that many people had to face. For other people, it is like a dreadful football game with a 'we have to beat the other side' attitude which ultimately has no logic to it. It's simply a case of one country wanting to be top dog. International systems have to find ways of coping with countries' desires to be seen as superior to the other and yet, at the same time living together, comfortably as friends. There is a similar European example: the French and the British are elbowing each other. Both countries want to be taken seriously in Europe and all that business about who should be appointed the first chairman of the European Central Bank with each country anxious to have their person as the top dog, but that didn't stop a lot of straight forward personal level contact. Kashmir in that context could be no more than just a symbol, it could co-exist with friendship. But it won't until some solution is found to the human rights problem. From the Pakistani perspective, they see a huge number of potential Pakistanis deserving to be treated in a better manner, whereas the Indian perspective is that Islamic fundamentalism is trying to take over Kashmir and push out the Hindus. The symbol of Kashmir does prevent the friendship from developing but it doesn't mean that it is impossible to resolve the issue.

    Q: So, is Kashmir the hurdle between better relations with India?

    A: You have to develop a framework where people feel a solution is possible. Look at Northern Ireland: apart from the IRA, ordinary middle-class opinion of the south recognises that Tony Blair or John Major were making serious efforts to solve this issue. Northern Ireland was an issue but it wasn't an insurmountable issue so that they could get over that hurdle even though that hurdle hadn't vanished. You could have something like that in Kashmir. If you put it from an Indian point of view, the settlement is there; it is based on the Simla Agreement and the supposed agreement between Mr Bhutto and Mrs Gandhi which was to turn the line of control into an international border. May be that happened, may be that didn't but a lot of people have subsequently said that it is the solution. From India's point of view, that is fine but from Pakistan's point of view, it confirms India's illegitimate occupation. So if India wants Pakistan to recognise the line of control then it has to make a framework where Pakistanis can feel friendlier. It's a chicken and egg situation: which comes first? It's going to take 10-15 years for some improved difference provided they move in the right direction; if we're lucky they will. If it moves in the wrong direction, things will stay where they are. India also has to give Kashmiris some sort of guarantee that they won't be deprived of their special position and that economic development will be made.

    Q: Pakistan highlights the Kashmir issue in international forums yet it continues to be ignored. Does the west pay heed to the problems in Kashmir?

    A: The west knows that Kashmir is a conflict situation. India made a miscalculation when it detonated the first (nuclear) tests because, for a little while, it reminded the rest of the world that there was a risk of war with Pakistan over Kashmir. That led western countries to at least think about internationalising the Kashmir issue but it seems to have faded again. The rest of the world does recognise the threat; there's always a threat of an accidental war. I don't think there's a high risk, it would be suicidal apart from anything else.

    Q: Have the two countries taken enough measures for better ties in the future?

    A: They have been talking to each other more or less even though those talks haven't amounted to much. Take the Lahore Declaration. There's not much in the Declaration that hasn't been included in previous discussions between Benazir and Rajiv; yet people had forgotten. So when Vajpayee and Sharif say the same thing it is suddenly rediscovered which indicates how little progress has been made since earlier talks. In fact, the Benazir and Rajiv meeting looked just like the period where things would get a lot better but they didn't and it looked just the same as Vajpayee's bus trip to Pakistan.

    Economic cooperation between the two countries is a step forward. The idea of Pakistan selling electricity to India is a good idea. The interesting thing is that they have a similar stance against the west in that they are both determined to show that they are not going to knuckle under all the pressure. Of course, they are doing it because of each other, because of their fear for each other but at the same time it creates a similar platform.

    Q: Pakistanis seem to ‘fear' the speed at which India is growing – both in terms of military and economic growth. Is that fear justified, especially in light of the bomb?

    A: The fears are understandable but I don't know if the word ‘justified' is correct. Are the Indians justified in fearing China? There's no reason why the Chinese are going to threaten India but that situation may change in 10-15 years – Indian authorities may have to note the possibility seriously. In the same way, there's no threat that India will take over Pakistan tomorrow but the threat will always remain. Pakistan has to be alert, always. India is a mightier nation so its fear of Pakistan is restricted to viewing it as a nuisance as they attribute the Kashmiri insurgency in the '90s to Pakistan.

    As far as the bombs are concerned, Pakistan tested after a three-week period and a lot of pressure was put on them not to test; countries were promising to ‘look after' them although Americans were careful not to say that they would give Pakistan a full nuclear guarantee. There were a few in Pakistan who subscribed to the view that Pakistan should prove the world wrong and not test. But on the other side, you had people like Advani who was giving speeches saying that ‘we're going to sort Kashmir out.'

    Q: But even after the devices were tested, and talks were held, there have been random incidents of firing on the border. Plus, the Agni and Prithvi issue has reared its ugly head again. Could third party intervention solve the tension; Pakistan advocates it?

    A: The cure, and there is no magic cure, has to come from themselves. This tension is not all about Kashmir, it's about what Kashmir stands for. Both Pakistan and India are large nations – India is larger and it is desperately anxious to avoid this second-class status. None of the countries want another war. I genuinely believe that if you had a government in India with an overwhelming majority, like Nawaz Sharif has, than you might get some significant changes happening, for example with the Kashmir status. As long as you've got any coalition government, whether BJP led or Congress led, you won't see realistic changes because each coalition is vulnerable to criticism both from within the coalition and outside just like Benazir Bhutto was always vulnerable. Sharif at least has the opposition where he wants them and has considerable sway within his own party but it takes two to play. At the same time, he can't make too many concessions. He couldn't say okay we'll have the line of control as a border without any major changes'; India's not going to settle for a joint co-dominion of the valley. I don't think third party intervention would do anything. The Indians aren't going to accept American mediation. Pakistan would because it would prove their point of Indian aggression in Kashmir.

    Q: Would economic cooperation between the countries ease the tension?

    A: For Pakistan, too much cooperation is threatening because it means that the Punjabi industry is going to be overwhelmed by these developments. When I.K. Gujral was prime minister, he did make some concessions. He did not insist that Pakistan would reciprocate on everything but I can imagine Indian industrialists thinking how long will that (unequal treatment) go on'. It is difficult.

    even if they cannot be friends then at least they should stop enemity because the amount of money they are spending for that can easily be used for the betterment of their own people who desparately need it


      As long as Kashmir issue is not solved Pakistan and India will have differences and we will be enimies.....
      Beside this religion also plays a major long as hindus protect muslim rights and allow them to pratice there religion freely with out demolishing there mosques then there can be a possibility though a vague one....
      The most important part is from childhood( in both counties) we are brain washed that India is your enemy or Pakistan is your enemy due to the previous wars!!!!
      Anyway!!!!!! it requires a whole new generation which can play a miraculous role to make these two countries as friends


      [This message has been edited by hallian (edited December 09, 1999).]


        After coming to this forum I don't think there is much hope of friendship between India and Pakistan. Pakistanis are brain washed to hate Indians (Hindus)and have brotherly love for Arabians.

        I think we should seal the borders and forget about each other.


          As long as u r killing innocent muslims we will interfere...stop those barbaric acts we will stop me!!!!



            >>After coming to this forum I don't think there is much hope of friendship between India and Pakistan. Pakistanis are brain washed to hate Indians (Hindus)and have brotherly love for Arabians. <<

            Or maybe itís the other way around Ė and whatís wrong with our brotherly love for Arabs?

            >>I think we should seal the borders and forget about each other<<
            Yeah lets try that Ė lekin for some strange reasons I donít believe thatíll help us, some ppl can keep sinking while they desperately try to make a point!


              We are going to see five-six years of lull in indo-pak relations. after kargil, it wll be difficult for any indian govt. to go out of way and give one-way concessions (a la gujral) to pak.

              WTO does not allow countries to pick and choose. Once a concession is given to certain country, it has to be given to all, so trade will open up, pak has no choice in that matter. Maybe in 2-3 years.

              I think if India grows at the rate of 6-7% for next few years and if Pak does not come out of current fiscal crisis, Pak will become irrelevent soon.


                Well Said! Sabah




                  I think you should read some of the posts depicting hatred for Hindus and killing Pakistani Hindus for revenge as an act of great bravery. Also, instructing Indian Muslims to hate Hindu (their countrymen) and favor Muslims because that is what Koran preaches. I don't think all this will lead to any friendship. Prerequisite of any friendship is mutual liking and toleration.

                  Lekin,if you still think Pakistanis can hate Indians and justify the hatred by thumping Koran and still be friends you are very welcome to think so.


                  I agree with you. In-toleration hatred and Madrassas will further make them inconsequential.


                  You are off the topic as usual.

                  [This message has been edited by Rani (edited December 10, 1999).]


                    As long as people like us will not open up and respect each other's uniqueness and identity but stereotype everyone and argue not for the sake of understanding but for the sake of will not happen.

                    If we can not learn to be civil polite and open to others here, how do we expect the greater masses to do so.

                    Personally I think it is entirely possible. I have met some horrible indians, whether they are muslims, hindus, sikhs, christians, etc etc....but then I have met some horrible pakistanis- mulsims, hindus, christians ....on the other hand I have met some great people, all religions and all nationalities. haah. Now that I look back, in real life my indian pals probably outnumber my pakistani pals...and yes we have different views about stuff..but we have learnt to respect the opinions of others and in the process learn something new.

                    Peace, understanding and friendship is entirely possible. So if that is your wish and that is something that you desire..take it upon yourself to be more tolerant, more open minded and do the same with your friends and family. A ripple effect like that has more power than any gesture by the governments at large.

                    Have you hugged an indian today?
                    Have you hugged a Pakistani today?

                    spread peace, love and friendship...go hug an indian/pakistani (unless they are not wearing deodorant and/or they are a diferent gender and hugging them may get u beaten up..but even then, is it too big a price for lasting peace and friendship)

                    Look at the similarities we many things that we share and not the diferences.
                    (btw when i said concentrate on the things we share.. I was not bringing Kashmir up in any way so ummmm dont go in that direction)

                    [This message has been edited by Fraudz (edited December 10, 1999).]
                    The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.


                      >I was not bringing Kashmir up in any way so ummmm dont go in that direction)

                      If we are going to be hugging Indians then we need to be able to discuss Kashmir without running away from the issue. Try saying to any Indian that Kashmir should rightfully have been part of Pakistan and see if he hugs you.

                      40 years later we are still seeing scenes of the holocaust in film and print, yet although there is more than enough evidence that there is butchery going on all over the muslim world, we are expected to turn a blind eye and make friends with the butchers.

                      We all love freedom. Give Kashmir it's freedom and then what is to stop us becoming friends. The onus is on India but they won't do it. They hate muslims and Pakistan with a vengeance deep in their hearts. It is in the Quran that the non-believers will never accept muslims unless they become like them. So that is why Abbas is ok. cuz he has a red dot in the middle of his brow.


                        stereotyping is not my bag baby...
                        and thats why this forum is not my bag baby..

                        Thus please continue in the direction this thread was headed, I will make a somewhat graceful exit

                        The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.


                          Mr Extreme wrote:.....It is in the Quran that the non-believers will never accept muslims unless they become like them.

                          Very Interesting, if it is written in Quran then we can never be friends, Kashmir or no Kashmir. You should only be friends with muslims and live in muslim countries.

                          [This message has been edited by Rani (edited December 10, 1999).]


                            How can we be friends with a nation that wants to wipe us off the world map?

                            The more relevant question is whether we can ever stop being enemies!


                              Rasmalai wrote....How can we be friends with a nation that wants to wipe us off the world map?

                              This is hilarious. Pakistan attacked India three time and not even once India has attacked Pakistan.

                              You guys are good at wiping yourself out with the help of your politicians and military you don't need any help from us.