Seminar on “Pakistan-India Cooperation: A way Forward”

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Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution organized one-day seminar on May 29, 2014, in collaboration with Department of Political science, Lahore College for Women University, Lahore, titled as “Pakistan-India Cooperation: A Way Forward”. The key speakers were: Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi, renowned Political Scientist and Defence Analyst and Dr. Shabbir Ahmed, Assistant Professor in Department of Political Science, Punjab University, Lahore. Prof. Dr. Sabiha Mansoor, Vice Chancellor Lahore College for Women University, Lahore welcomed the guests.  Ms. Sabah Aslam, Executive Director, Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR) concluded the seminar.

The seminar was well-attended by students of Political Science, International Relations, and Pakistan Studies, faculty members, scholars, young researchers, and media persons. They patiently listened to the speakers and actively participated in question answer session.  The speakers gave a fresh input on the on-going debate of Pakistan-India relations, especially after the political change in India through May 2014 elections in which Mr. Narender Modi’s politically right and religiously oriented party BJP, has emerged as victorious.  With the emergence of Mr. Modi, various questions are raised regarding nature of future relationship between Pakistan and India.

The guest speakers, while keeping in view global and regional imperatives, were optimistic about the future cooperation between India and Pakistan and agreed that it is high time two nations learned from past and never allowed it to damage present and the future cooperation between the two.

Objectives:

The key objective of the seminar was to address those questions that arise out of new situation developed because of domestic political change in the two countries and the changing regional and global dynamics. It was aimed to make the participants develop a rational discourse about the changing circumstances in international relations and especially about the on-going debates about the future of Pakistan-India Relations.

The seminar also aimed to engage students to apply their knowledge in understanding new situations in international affairs.

Prof. Dr. Sabiha Mansoor:

 The Vice Chancellor of LCWU Prof. Dr. Sabiha Mansoor, welcomed the guests and  appreciated the IICR Team for organizing a seminar on the right occasion and topic. She said nobody wants war, everybody is pacifist and our new generation has more inclination towards peace and cooperation. There is a greater need for enhancing cooperation between Pakistan and India. Two nations have already drained their resources on defeating each other militarily. There is urgent need to turn the pages of history and write a new chapter of cooperation.

Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi:

The key-note speaker at the seminar Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi, a renowned Political Scientist and Defence Analyst, said that the relations between the two nations have always been shaped by domestic politics. Dr. Askari said, whenever there is debate on the subject of Pakistan India Cooperation, it give rise to so many controversies since the subject is part of the domestic politics. And the recent visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to India for witnessing oath-taking ceremony of Mr. Modi, has received mixed reactions in different quarters including Media. We need to keep emotions aside and try to understand the nature and delicacy of the problem. You have to deal with India, BJP, and Modi without negative reaction, you have to acknowledge the success of Modi, whether it is good or bad decision of electorate.

The emergence of political right and religiously oriented party in India has generated much reaction in Pakistan. It is believed in some quarters of media that BJP has won the elections on the basis of hatred against Pakistan. Mr.  Askari, while rejecting such discourse, explained that it was internal task of economic welfare and poor performance of congress that have contributed in the success of Narender Modi. He said, “BJP’s Past has nothing to do with elections”.   He agreed that there are extremist elements in in India i.e RSS,  but on other hand there is much support of corporate sector to Mr. Modi, which will not want any war/conflict. Mr. Askari stressed that, Mr. Modi has got image

Mr. Shabbir Ahmed:

Another speaker Mr. Shabbir Ahmed, Assistant Professor in Punjab University, stressing on future he said he is seeing a good future of Pakistan-India cooperation. Emphatically, Mr. Shabbir warned, “If you look at the past, you can’t move forward, you have to bury the past.” He pointed out imperatives that lead to future cooperation between two nations. Firstly, issue of terrorism brings two nations closer because both have suffered at the hands of terrorist. There is coincidence of stance on it. Secondly, both are now democratic nations, and the democratic principle both sides make them less feasible to go for war. Thirdly, global politics is supporting cooperation; it is moving from traditional security towards non-traditional security; it is focusing on socio-economic development. Fourthly, Mr. Modi and Mr. Sharif share the same vision, both represent corporate sector.

Ms. Sabah Aslam:

While concluding the session, the Executive Director of Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR), Ms. Sabah Aslam, said that the relationship between India and Pakistan is marred by the deep scars dating back to Partition of sub-continent with animosity embedded in the memory lane of both nations. What started from the skewed Radcliff award has developed into wide gulf furthered each time by military showdowns, proxy, media and lately water wars.

More so, she pointed out that we have tried traditional military and non-military means already which appear to have not worked so far. Media efforts, cultural exchanges, enhanced business, relaxed trade and sports etc. must continue, as these help in defusing tension and increase interdependence which is an important step in enhancing prospects of reconciliation.  However, it must be realised that such efforts cannot progress well, if these are one sided. The euphoria and efforts of years must not be allowed to die down by imprudent acts. If Pakistan’s water is stopped, interference by India in Baluchistan and support to anti – federation forces continues, and if Pakistan interferes in India,   how can the relations between both improve?

Seminar was Organized by Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR) in collaboration with the Lahore College for Women University (LCWU).