india pakistan peace

People choose various methods of resistance when dealing with ideological issues – from outright belligerence and violence to democratic collectivism. It depends on their perspective,  beliefs, or sometimes there is just a selfish agenda.

In the long run such methods cannot provide solutions for serious issues which hang on for years, like an incurable ailment which drains the human condition.

Let us deal specifically with the impasse facing India and Pakistan, which has been an ‘ailment’ ever since we parted company after Independence in 1947.

Times have changed in these past 75 years and today, there are many players in this global world, each intent on the benefit to be gained for their own turf , without much consideration for moral issues. We need to solve our problems by narrowing our canvas to negotiate directly as neighbours. Sabre rattling, surgical strikes, killing each others’ soldiers , sometimes barbarically, terrorism; or indeed military hardware (supplied to both sides), is not is not going to frighten either side or solve any problems. It will only fan the flames in both countries and weaken us both.   Also, make us more vulnerable to those with commercial interests, for the sale of the latest ‘killer equipment’ in the international market.

Let us look at the commonalities and strengths of both India and Pakistan and see what is possible for us both, to lead us gradually to non-violent action, to live as good neighbours:

Both countries share so much ..a long common history, tradition, language, after all we were one country, not so long ago. This background has solid foundations, and the cracks and harsh breaks which have emerged in the comparatively short span of less than 75 years, are repairable and in time will not be discernible.

Political parties have their own agenda and often the larger issues in a country, are postponed or forgotten in their own battles to win at any cost. However, there is sympathy and yearning for peace within the rank and file of people, in both countries. different stratas of society, be they Intellectuals, professionals, shopkeepers, or people on the street,  speak with such warmth and friendship, eager to learn as to what is really happening ‘there’ – across the barrier. Visitors from both countries are assured of a warm welcome whenever they come to either country.

What then can be done to build a bridge between us both? Importantly there is the legacy of non-violence passed on by leaders of both countries which beckon towards a solution. Gandhiji and and his revered friend Abdul Ghaffar Khan have left a strong inheritance, which is warmly accepted by many thinking people, especially the young. But apart from protest and solidarity  marches, they are thwarted by taking desired action in the thorny situation that exists in both countries.

We have to remember that satyagraha and non-violence were major factors which led to Independence from British rule. It could have been in a less violent way, if more people subscribed to non-violent beliefs. And this was a much more difficult problem to dislodge the  British, with their sprawling empire, at the time – than the settlement now, between us two neighbours.

The road to Gandhi ji’s approach will require patience and persistence. At the time it was the recognition of his stature in India and abroad,  as an outstanding man of moral, innovative ideas and action, which made non-violent action possible. But the legacy is very much there for us both and we can use this effective tool today, to build peace and firm friendship between us.

A strong,united India and Pakistan can deal with terrorists and others stirred up by bellicose speeches from both sides by politicians and unthinking people. And this unity will enable us to deal on an equal footing with other nations and deter interference from countries who have their own agendas.

With no takers in our two countries for ‘killer hardware’, the money saved will be channelized for our economic benefit. ‘Garibi hatao’ will become a reality in this sub-continent.  And with better opportunities, better nourishment, the intellectual acumen latent in our people will flower,for the benefit of people in both our countries, and elsewhere in the world.

Pamela Chatterjee is a peace activist



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