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India and Pakistan Will Never be Friends

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Ever at loggerheads, India and Pakistan staged yet another mutual discussion last week. Feel free to rejoice: at the end of it all, they agreed to launch the fourth round of the composite dialogue on March 13-14, 2007….Wow!

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri said, “We reviewed progress on all issues on the composite dialogue framework comprising peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir…promotion of friendly exchange and trade and economic cooperation."  Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee acquiesced, "We agreed that the first meeting of the joint anti-terrorism mechanism will take place before end of March 2007."

Pretty exciting stuff.

Mr. Mukherjee was in Islamabad to deliver an invitation to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to attend the 14th regional SAARC Summit in New Delhi on April 2-4. It has not been accepted. The letter was instead passed down to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. But no one is moaning in agony. All attention was focused on the important talks that Mr.Mukherjee was expected to hold with Mr. Khurshid and President Musharraf. Their performances were revealing.

At the post-discussion press conference the two foreign ministers resembled actors playing minor roles in some surreal East European film. They announced to have "agreed to allow the movement of diplomats to Noida and Gurgaon in India and Taxila and Hasan Abdal in Pakistan." Gurgaon and Noida are shopping suburbs of New Delhi, while Taxila and Hasan Abdal are historical landmarks within a few miles of Islamabad. These destinations are barred for the diplomats of either country.

However, the diplomats need not plan weekend jaunts just yet. “Procedures for this will be worked out," Mr. Mukherjee added.

Should we clap and cheer that the governments of the two biggest South Asian countries have finally decided to grant their bored diplomats the modest pleasure of driving to nearby malls and historic ruins? If elaborate procedures are painstakingly devised for non-issues, we need not be think-tank experts to imagine the kind of insurmountable roadblocks that lie ahead for matters of actual concern.

Such bureaucratic lethargy exposes how far the policymakers have drifted away from the ground realities on the shore. Now it's too late to float back. The time for peace has already passed away. This blogger believes it unwise to expect peace in our life times and unrealistic to dream about it for our grandchildren either.

The dividing wall of prejudice and mistrust is here to stay.

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About Mayank Austen Soofi

  • Zedd

    Mayank

    What I am going to say is going to sound horrible but hear me out.

    Part of the reason the the Indian/Pakistani matter will remain volatile is because no one really cares. Pakis and Indians look a lot alike, sound a lot alike and to people who are not familiar with the cultures, seem to be the same, so no one cares. It seems ridiculous from afar.

    Its like when I heard the Tutsi and Hutu crisis, it was like WHATEVER (not to the devastation but to the dispute). It was like what in the heck is a Tutsi. It sounded so cartoonish. No one really knew about the details of the conflict outside of them, and here they were bashing each other’s skulls and standing afar it was like, what is the big deal. Its not like being Hutu is significant to the world order.

    The same is true about Ethiopia and Eritrea. Now they swear they are different but who can tell them apart and who cares. They are busy countering one groups claim of a wrong against another. The truth is nobody really cares. They look alike to us, and sound the same.

    I have always had an affinity for Indians because of my early childhood in South Africa. I grew up eating Indian food as a traditional food. I also enjoyed Musharraf when he came to the US a few months back. I thought he was brilliant and shrewd. He handled the Bush administration well and stop short of being offensive, BRILLIANT!

    One can only hope that the dispute gets resolved, however most people just don’t care.

  • Mayank Austen Soofi

    Zedd,
    I agree that common people in other parts of the world must hardly find any reason to be perturbed by events, or the non-events, of South Asia. But at least policy makers must care. The world is being connected in ways too extraordinary to imagine. One cracker in Kashmir is enough to spark a chain reaction of bomb blasts from Kabul to Cairo to Kansas to…NYC!

  • Zedd

    M A S

    I totally agree with your assertion. However policy makers are politicians and politicians respond to the public.

    Its important for the policy makers of these countries to also understand just how eye rolling their dispute is to the rest of the world. Also understanding the repercussions of the conflicts to the international community, it is actually their responsibility to end this foolishness

  • Irfan Husain

    Mayank, I don’t share your pessimism. If there is any hope for normal relations, it lies in the interests of the dominant groups in both countries. It is now in the corporate interest of the Pak army to make peace as the value of the vast stock market and real estate portfolios of senior officers would be slashed in case of renewed hostilities. In India, the establishment realises it cannot achieve its ambition of becoming a global player as long as it has regional conlicts festering on its borders.

  • ProfEssays

    India and Pakistan will be friends when Pakistan reunifyies with India.

  • Mayank Austen Soofi

    Irfan,
    I’ll be delighted if my pessimism is proved misplaced.

  • Elisha

    My wihs is that Pakistan and India will reunite. How wonderful would that be? It would be such a strong country again. i know this wish is childish, but whatever.