20 June, 2021

Sentimental Borders

There is a fear that if things calm down in Kashmir while Pakistan stands aside, it’ll lose its influence - the fear of marginalisation.

Sentimental Borders

The Pakistan-India Forum for Peace and Democracy, brainchild of Dr Mubashir Hasan, former Pakistan finance minister and ceaseless campaigner for better understanding between the two countries, gave an opportunity to me and four former colleagues from the ministry of external affairs to visit our neighbour. This was an entirely unofficial effort. We went with no message and represented no authority. During our stay, we met ngos, think-tanks, media, social activists, private individuals and some high officials, thus encountering a cross-section of Pakistani opinion. From all sides, one message was constantly thrust at us: the two countries had to find a way out of the morass. France and Germany had settled centuries-old issues, Northern Ireland had progressed, now even the two Koreas were talking, so why not us? There was a palpable desire to break free from the cycle of strife and hostility.

This should come as no surprise to India, where similar sentiments are no less widespread. But sentiments alone do not advance us very far. The beliefs and demands...

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