Since independence, both India & Pakistan have lived in environment of hostility leading to war, destruction and a continued atmosphere of mistrust and hatred. The “philosophy of thousand cuts’ and Revenge resulted in avoidable miseries to our young generation. For some reasons instead of making “peaceful and prosperous co-existence” a core issue; we have made dismemberment, secession and disintegration as one point agenda. Both nations have lived as enemy of each other for over five decades, and if we do not change our attitude and ways, our coming generations may have to live in avoidable misery, mistrust and hostility for yet another five decades!! Is this what we want to leave for our coming generations? Will this be acceptable to our coming generations? Can we do something even now for the good of our coming generations?
Arms race, military intervention and actions, conventional and covert war, proxy wars have not brought any solution, respite and change in attitudes, social and economic well-being of people of India and Pakistan. In fact with every passing day our attitudes and stances are getting hardened for the worst. Caught in the web of hostility, frustration and off-again, on-again war of words and the continuing cross-border violence, is what ordinary Pakistani and
Indian people who have suffered most and will continue to suffer if we do not change our attitude. Where do we go from here? How do we come out of this no-win situation? Is there a way out? There seems to be a way which is worth exploring and trying.
Interdependence of basic format of Agriculture, Trade, irrigation System, Power generation and sharing; Medical and Health care system, Education and Commerce will create a new environment and urge for coexistence. It will create an environment for our coming generations to forget the past, ignore the past, and to progress and exist in peace and ensure prosperity.”
Instead of harping on the age of old cries my country, My faith, my religion and so on – let us make a shift towards our region, our people, our culture, our environment, our education, our health, our wellbeing, our trade our young generations, our co-existence and most importantly “our collective destiny”! It is the interdependence for peaceful “co-existence of interest” of people, which well result in “confluence of interest” of people of South Asia (our region) and will reduce the possibility of conflict within the region and among neighbors like India and Pakistan.
India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have common history, culture, commonality of faith and religion, similarity of language, script, similarity of interests and similarity of challenges. Our ‘agriculture (the main economic and social stay) is based on same monsoon, most of us share the water of same rivers, our agriculture pattern is same, our food habits are similar, our challenges are same and therefore, our collective destiny will be the same. With so many commonalities and similarities is it not possible to evolve a regional perspective of progress and co-existence, an approach, a workable plan for implementation in near future which can generate a ray of hope for our young generation and coming generations to progress and prosper further?!
It is unfortunate that some of us believe in predictions and crystal grazing (and few of us wish), that different parts of Pakistan will demand separation. Few among of us are busy drawing new geographical maps and boundaries though imaginary. Some believe that Pakistan will disintegrate or separated in five parts and by separating; they will join India to form a sort of confederation. Such a thinking will lead us to a most undesirable and disastrous course of events. Those of us who have a faint hope and believe in such a possibility are not only fooling our young generations; but they will Leave our coming generations on a most disastrous course of journey in to future”.
There are large areas of joint ventures, collective efforts, unity of approach and actions. Some of the areas in which fast and tangible progress is possible are discussed in following paragraphs. Opening, up Education. As we have done in case of our neighbors, let us open up our educations institutions (at least on trial basis to start with) for Pakistani students specially in the field of Information Technology (IT) Management, Medical and Health Care, Engineering, Mass Communication, Biotechnology, Rural Development, Water Resource Management, Forestry, Film Making and Fashion Technology, etc. Opening up Trade and Possible Joint Ventures. Let us try and leave the Trade Relations to Corporate World, Industry and Businessmen as well as to so called “ordinary people”. The Government and Governmental agencies should play the role of facilitator for a change. This shall require courage, will, and determination to give up the concept of “Exclusivity”. Since “exclusivity”, has become one of the most important ingredient of official policy on both side of the border and unfortunately it is seen as a barrier in the way of promotion of trade and commerce.
Though rather late at least now we have taken the right step in the direction of interlinking of rivers in India. There is also an urgent need for interlinking of rivers and canals first within Pakistan and later with India also. At this stage interlinking of rivers in Pakistan may be accepted, but most of the people specially the “hardliners”, fly by night politicians, self-appointed custodians of India and Pakistani destiny and some of our decision makers, who take decisions in “air conditioned and mentally conditioned offices will laugh on the proposal. In all probability they will ridicule the concept of interlinking rivers between India and Pakistan. They will even question geographical knowledge and technical credential of the author of this concept. They will say it is impossible. Some will say let us resolve the “core issue of J&K, first. I strongly feel this the most desirable step and project. The acceptance of the idea by the people will be a big step forward. This will give better pay-offs in the long term for both India and Pakistan.
- Agricultural productivity in West Punjab (Pakistan) is going down again due to poor and inadequate irrigation system. Canals built earlier have not been adequately maintained resulting in the wastage of water. Wheat production has also been affected. The linking of rivers and canals as well as building up new canal system will result in increased agricultural and horticultural activities in Sindh and other provinces of Pakistan, giving meaningful employment, economic boost to agriculture based rural economy and the society. Inadequate water supply is one of the causes of resentment, frustration and friction among the people of Sindh province. Desert areas of Sindh can be converted into agricultural productive land as is now happening in “Rajasthan” due to Indira Gandhi canal. The districts of Barmier and Jaisalmer are gradually transforming the village economy (of course it is also attracting illegal migration from across the border).
- The thought among some people in Pakistan, that India (the so called big brother) in control of water resources, may not find legitimacy anymore and one of the reason for the urge to get Kashmir under Pakistan’s influence may be reduced to some extent.
- Navigation through waterways can be improved in Pakistan giving new avenues for transportation, tourism and increased opportunities for economic activities and employment.
- Power generation can be improved and the interlinking of electricity grid will help in availability of electric power in rural areas for agriculture and industrial growth. At a later stage the power can be transmitted to Afghanistan also which will boost improvement in living conditions and small-scale industries.
- There are many other advantages, but the most important one will be that interlinking of rivers will result one day in “interlinking of hearts and minds” of people not only in various provinces of Pakistan but also people of India and Pakistan.
Opening up Medical Care in India
A large number of people from neighboring countries come to India for medical treatment due to close proximity and cheaper medical care. Let us encourage the people from Pakistan to come to India for medical care and treatment. Those people who will get proper medical care in India will never harbour any ill feeling towards India. No patient who needs blood will ever ask if the blood to be given to him/her is of Hindu or Muslim or anyone else. The doctors will only be interested in “matching blood group, for the patient. Will it not result in interlinking of heart?
Noor Fatima the two-year-old Pakistani child who has gone through a successful heart operation in Bangalore will always have soft corner for the Indian doctor. When she grows up her attitude will be different. Will her father and mother ever harhour any ill feeling towards Indian medical fraternity?
India – Pakistan Trade
At present Pakistan imports lron-ore from various other countries other than India at a reasonably high costs and transportation cost. Iron ore produced in India is of desired quality and grade to meet the requirements of industries in Pakistan at a cheaper cost. Indian textile machinery which is comparatively cheaper as opposed to textile machinery imported by Pakistan. This will reduce the production cost of cloth for people of Pakistan and also for export.
Control of “Narcotic” trade, which is adversely affecting the young generations both in India and Pakistan, is another area of cooperation, which will give quick positive result.
Another area to increase interdependence of cooperation is the construction of India-Pakistan-Afghanistan-Central Asia Republic highway, which can be linked with Bangladesh and Myanmar. This friendship highway will encourage multinational, techno economic cooperation; social cultural exchange and nourish the ideal of peaceful co-existence.
Despite various ideological differences it is the interdependence of economic and industrial interests which will always prevent serious confrontation between USA and China. Can India and Pakistan learn from China-US experience?!
A detailed analysis of the possibility and possible approach can be formulated and action plan evolved. As stated earlier there will be tremendous opposition to such a proposal due to deep-rooted suspicion and hatred, both within India and Pakistan. Even some of our ‘think tanks” will question the visibility of such a proposal. In case there is a peace between India and Pakistan, our “think tanks” will have to think of some new issues to keep themselves occupied. I feel “increased interdependence” is the best and surest way to reduce the temptation and incentives for conflicts. There will also be an argument in some quarters in Pakistan that by opening up trade and other linkages “India will gain more”. To this the answer can be that assuming India will gain more, but Pakistan will also “lose less”.
Let us give a serious consideration and try for the sake of our future generations. They should not be left to live in atmosphere and environment of hostility, for next fifty years as we have been suffering for over fifty years. If we do not act now and make a beginning our coming generations will continue to suffer for no fault of theirs. Let us be just, and kind to our coming generations.