India and Pakistan: Bridging the gap

RK Mishra

RK Mishra Memorial Lecture by Maj Gen Mahmud Ali Durrani

Excerpts below, complete text at http://tinyurl.com/md-mishra – thanks to Renuka Mishra whom I met in Kabul. See also ‘Ex-NSA for ‘candid talks’ between Indo-Pak security agencies’, Iftikhar Gilani’s report on the event in Daily Times, Sept 6, 2009.

Pakistan’s National Security Adviser till January 2009, former Ambassador to the USA, active in peace initiatives between India and Pakistan (he’s known as “General Shanti” in India, author of several books and studies – was closely associated with the well known Indian journalist, thinker, and parliamentarian RK Mishra who passed away earlier this year. He delivered the first RK Mishra Memorial Lecture in Delhi on Sept 8, 2009 –

India and Pakistan:  Bridging the gap

'General Shanti' at IIC, New Delhi

'General Shanti' at IIC, New Delhi

In his talk, Gen. Durrani suggested, among other things, opening up the visa regime between our two countries; allowing broadcast of TV programs from one country to the other; setting up a joint “lndo-Pak  “Arid Agriculture Research Centre”; including agriculture as a major component of the composite dialogue; cooperating in areas like water, coal, wind and solar energy; and supporting “any solution which is acceptable to the majority of the Kashmiris. The bottom line – Kashmir for the Kashmiris.”

Excerpts:

“I am certain, if Pakistan, India and Afghanistan had good working relations, each could play an important role to develop and improve energy, trade and communication infrastructures in the region to make South Asia a hub of economic activity that yields mutually beneficial results for its entire people. …

“Today, for the first time we face a common threat, a threat which if not contained and rejected will surely destroy us, piecemeal. It will destroy the secular credentials that our forefathers had enunciated for both our countries. Terrorism, Religious Bigotry, Intolerance and a warped sense of Nationalism are the numerous facets of this threat. I can assure you time is not on our side. We have to fight this threat jointly and move beyond the usual rhetorical statements and the blame game.

“… While this threat is gnawing at our vitals, what are we doing about it collectively? A lot of blame and counter blame. To me it seems the Mumbai investigation is being conducted through the media. I do not understand why India and Pakistan are unable to field a joint investigation team. At some point in time we have to move beyond our mistrust. And that time is now.

“… There is an urgent need to humanize the relationship, to show each other that deep down we are humans, no different from each other, following the same broad moral principles, with the same desires and aspirations to live decent lives. I have two broad recommendations to bridge this gap. First is the opening up of the visa regime between our two countries, I mean really opening up. Second, allowing broadcast of TV programs from one country to the other. I can watch all the TV channels of India in Pakistan but I believe my friends here in Delhi cannot watch Pakistani TV channels. I don’t understand why. Is it possible that the Indian establishment is worried about a cultural invasion from Pakistan?”

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