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It was a season of interviews for my MBA admissions and I was asked a lot of interesting questions. One of those questions tested my diplomacy. He asked me to comment on Indo-Pak relationship, he added a quote by Paulo Coelho, “Culture makes people understand each other better and if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first, they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.” He asked me if India should follow this policy. I didn’t flow emotionally at that time and answered diplomatically, exactly what they wanted to hear. But of course, what I thought was too much different than what I said. I am just sharing it here.

The word ‘culture’ is very subjective. Culture doesn’t only depend on religion or caste; in fact, it more depends on the geographical proximity of the subject population. The river Indus has bonded Hindustan together since the civilizations in which humans learnt humanity. Since then the culture of our land has been same. We have been staying together with peace and harmony, no matter the religion. In fact, despite politically driven artificial disputes, we have always proved our maturity as countrymen. So technically, the cultures of today’s Pakistan and today’s India are same. Even if they might have evolved to be slightly different with time, we understand each others’ cultures better than anyone else could, because they are the evolutions of the same culture. Despite this, there have constantly been tensions mounting between India and Pakistan, which counters the logic described in the mentioned quote.

Though I agree with Mr. Paulo Coelho that neighbours share same problems, I doubt his inference that nations with same problems can be at absolute peace. On the contrary, I think that if two nations have same problems, they might be running towards same solutions, and thus naturally, they become each others’ enemies. For example let us discuss one of the many common problems: the river Indus is the major source of water for the whole of Pakistan and the Indian state Jammu and Kashmir. Despite the Indus water treaty, Pakistan wants control over Jammu and Kashmir because it is scared that India might block the water supply (though that has never happened despite extreme tensions) and India doesn’t want to lose its territory, which naturally makes both enemies.

The first idea of Pakistan was itself a saddening moment since the then India was a geographically prosperous and a multi-communal country. The partition hosted by the British, or precisely, sparked by the British, was a fair job done at their side. Pakistan was given the Karachi port while India was given the Great Rann of Kutch. India had Delhi, and Pakistan was given Lahore. Even Lord Mountbatten took a neutral stand during the lapse of paramountcy and left the princely states free to decide whether whose instrument of accession they wanted to sign. But somehow Pakistan’s foreign policy has always been hostile towards India. In fact, the elections in Pakistan are won on the basis of anti-India sentiments. There have been lots of diplomatic efforts from Indian side to normalize the tensions, but for them to work, they have to be mutual.

The list of efforts made by the Indian side is non-exhaustive but to mention some, we have, Indus water treaty, Tashkent agreement, and Delhi-Lahore bus service. The attitude and intentions of Pakistan towards this relation have always been evidently non-cooperative. Since the partition, the Pakistani troops have regularly violated ceasefires and crossed the Lines of Control. The evident hostility of Pakistan is just 50% of the problem. Its secret policy to sponsor terrorism is the rest 50% of the problem. It has been sponsoring terrorism since a long time to use them against neighboring countries. India has been a prey to terrorism, and this is unacceptable.

The first solution to any problem must be tried through dialogues. It is sole responsibilities of both the countries to take initiatives to relax tensions. The Indian government has been doing that since even before the birth of Pakistan. A change in our foreign policy towards Pakistan is not just a need now; it is a necessity, because the common man, be any national, deserves a better death than falling prey to terrorists.


-By: Saurabh Bhirud

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