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Indo-Pak relations
Speak up before it's too late!
By Rana Ikram Rabbani

Rabbani, a former minister of health, Punjab, Pakistan is founder of SAFE (South Asians for Enlightenment), and one of the enthusiastic supporters of friendship between the peoples of Pakistan and India in general. This statement was delivered South Asia Study Center of Rajasthan University, Jaipur).

I have a lasting impression of the late President Kennedy’s remarks in his press conference just before his assassination. He said, "The French government, the de Gaulle government is not necessarily friendly to our policies, but France is always a reliable and attractive country to the Americans." In order to elevate the level of our relations to that mentioned by President Kennedy each of us would have to double our efforts to foster understanding, mutual reliance and attraction for the other.The world today is a world of mutual reliance. The stability of one country is dependent on the stability of a region or even the globe. The prosperity of a country is simply unachievable without a peaceful internal and external environment. Everybody knows that all are interrelated in the world. We all live in separate countries and in separate families, but we live on one earth. We all are linked to each other in some way or the other. Therefore, it is not proper that one’s enjoyment is achieved through the suffering of another. We all must enjoy life together. To do so, we must take concerted actions to solve various problems. In my view, the opportunity presents itself time and again and it is up to us to seize that when it comes. In international relations there is now a turning point from confrontation to amity, from opposition to compromise. To further this tendency we must make our contributions.

We are also very clear that the planet we live in, is by no means a peaceful harbor, but rather a place where disputes and conflicts may never cease. From the catastrophic World Wars to the undeclared military competition in the cold war period, from the frequent territorial disputes to the racial conflicts, from the sharp disparity between the rich and the poor to the present trend of multipolarization, all these are constant reminders that peaceful coexistence of nations is the prerequisite for a better life for mankind.

South Asia as a Geo-political entity emerged only fifty years ago but it is one of the oldest civilizations of the world. As the young nation states emerged at the end of the colonial rule, the civilizational unity was apparently forgotten. Every state started groping for its future separately.
Boundaries demarcated their territories but also divided people, their common history and shared traditions. These similarities and common interests of the people should be brought to the fore for the benefit of whole of the South Asian community, which represents one fifth of the World’ s population.

Governments of South Asian states have played the game of one upmanship for past fifty years adopting belligerent postures towards each other, pitting people against people and creating demonic image of ‘other’. The cold war politics instead of bringing the South Asian nations together actually deepened the division among them and sowed the seeds of mutual suspicion and hatred. Hatred cannot put an end to hatred, In this world this never happens. This is an eternal law. We in Pakistan are still obsessed with the cold war syndrome while the world has firmly put the cold war behind itself and marched ahead. President Clinton’s visit and speech reflects very much the general thinking in Washington in particular and world in general. As regional integration (mainly economic) of different parts of the world,particularly of Europe brought increasing prosperity and well being to the inhabitants of those regions South Asian nations deliberately continued to look the other way. Instead of attempting to build bridges they were as if knowingly or otherwise widening chasms between them. While European states got over their violent past and the bitterest of conflicts of several centuries and moved towards integration, countries of South Asia have refused to learn anything from the European example. European nations have experienced wars of all kinds all along their history from small wars, to hundred year’s war to world wars. But finally without compromising their respective sovereignty, geographical boundaries, entity and identity they have joined in a Union, European Union.

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has remained a half-hearted effort, as if, reluctantly undertaken. SAARC summits are political rituals without substance and have belied any hope of positive change in the region. Instead South Asia has become the hotbed of arms race.When the world has shunned the weapons of mass destruction India and Pakistan are caught in a frenzy to outdo each other by developing them and appear to have adopted the deadly MAD (mutually assured destruction) doctrine of the cold war era at astronomical costs.
History must be remembered, all right. But nations have to forgive and forget their hostile past with other nations to provide a better and prosperous future to their generations to come. This could not be truer than that of the nations of South Asia. People and Governments of South Asia should not dwell on the events of the past. They should instead forge ahead in a meaningful manner towards peace and economic prosperity and away from the path that leads to confrontation and strife, which would eventually prove to be detrimental to the interests of the people of South Asia. This brings me to another important twin idea, that of Human security ad human Development.

A changed discourse on Security that has resulted from a major paradigm shift in theory and to an extent in practice of international politics is a recent development. In the past few years there has been a visible movement from state-centered politics to man-centered politics. Human concerns now dominate debates on various issues such as development, intervention and rights in the international arena. The concept of security has been for too long defined and interpreted narrowly and almost exclusively in terms of state or national security, driven by nationalistic zeal and fortified by the cold war in mid 20th century and it sanctified ‘territory’. Nation-state is a matter of maps and must have borders; hence it easily overlooked the human dimension of security. It excluded the legitimate concerns of ordinary people in their day to day life and established a simplistic equation between national security and individual security. The concept of security has changed in two basic ways: from an exclusive stress on territorial security to a much greater stress on people’s security, and from security through armaments to security through sustainable development. That security also has a meaning independent of the state at the level of the individual is now fairly well accepted. This notion of security is intimately connected with peace. In 1945 the US Secretary of State put it very precisely, "The battle of peace has to be fought on two fronts. The first is the security front where victory spells freedom from fear. The second is the economic front where victory means freedom from want. Only victory on both fronts can assure the world of an enduring peace." I do not intend to discuss the concept of Human security but to point out those aspects of Indo-Pak relationship that adversely affect the socio-political aspect of Human security in the sub-continent. The burden of military expenditure in South Asia has been consistently on the rise in the post cold war era. It is disturbing to note that South Asia is moving totally against global trends and that too at a fairly prohibitive cost in foreign exchange. The social and human cost of spending is enormous. It is said that the cost of one battle tank is enough to immunize 4 million children and the cost of one submarine can provide safe drinking water to 60 million people. It must be noted that India and Pakistan share nearly 93 % of the total South Asian military expenditure. Recently India went for a colossal increase of Rs13000 crores in its defence budget. Military budget in Pakistan has become unsustainable because of its rising ratio to the GDP. Islamabad and New Delhi spend 6.5 % and 3.1% of their respective GDP on defence. Indo-Pakistan arms race has included weapons of mass destruction (WMD). With their nuclear programs dating back to the early 1960s and 1970s, India and Pakistan are believed to have the capacity to produce significant number of nuclear weapons. At the same time, they are engaged in a leisurely pursuit of ballistic missile capacity. This earns them a ranking among the top ten largest buyers of weapons among developing states. Have these extensive military preparations made an Indian, or a Pakistani, more secure or free of fear? NO. In fact in case of Pakistan the source of the gravest of security threats is internal-imminent economic and social collapse-rather than external. This attention to and expenditure on defence contrasts sharply with the expenditure on other significant areas. Pakistan’s military spending, for instance, is estimated to be 125% of the combined education and health expenditure. India’s military expenditure on the other hand, is estimated to be 65% of its combined education and health expenditure. These sectoral imbalances have had serious repercussions for Islamabad and New Delhi’s performance in the areas important for Human development. India has the largest number of people living in absolute poverty (350 million, or 26% of the world total). Pakistan accounts for 2.7% of the world’s total with 35 million people (over one quarter of its population) living in absolute poverty. India spends 3.5 % of its GNP on education and has an adult literacy rate of 50 %. Translated in real terms, this means that India has the largest number of illiterate adults (272 million in1992) in the world Pakistan spends3.4 % of its GNP on education and only 45 million people or 36 % of its total population is estimated to be literate. In India, where life expectancy at birth is 59.7 years, 3.5 million children die before reaching the age of five, while another69.3 million in the same age group remain malnourished. Pakistan’s performance is not better; it has an infant mortality rate of 99 per 1,000 live births and the number of malnourished children is estimated to be 3.7 million. In India and Pakistan, approximately 844 million people have no access to sanitation facilities and an estimated 281 million have no access to safe drinking water. Hence India and Pakistan are ranked 135 and 137 out of 173 states on the Human Development Index (HDI) designed by the United Nations Development Program.

Given that these two states are moving down the HDI ranking each year, it can be safely assumed that both India and Pakistan run the risk of further depriving their people of basic necessities unless they spend less on war preparations and more on health and education. At this critical juncture we at SAFE have undertaken a mission to lend a voice to all those who dream of making South Asia a haven of peace and prosperity through cooperation and harmony among the South Asians. We have witnessed that common culture of Sub-Continent is strong enough to survive 50 years of Indo-Pak hostile relationship. We want to make SAFE a peoples’ SAARC. We want to learn by other’s experiences. Our faith abounds in infinite abilities of the common man of this region who is aware of his the rich legacy and has faith in the collective future.

India should stop its counterproductive efforts to isolate the Musharraf regime. In Myanamar the army has directly ruled for more than two decades but New Delhi has never raised the matter or let that fact come in the way of normal bilateral relations. ·

Pakistan does have valid grounds for disagreements with India but it can start with issues on which we agree and make headway towards the "Core Issue" by taking confidence-building measures. So we may have environment of mutual trust in which we may not fear to negotiate but not negotiate out of fear.

Sino-American and Sino-Taiwan trade relations offer a good example of how trade relations could be used skillfully to enhance mutual confidence between two politically hostile countries.

Games and sports are important aspects in bringing people together. We all remember well the "Cricket diplomacy" which helped to reduce tension between India and Pakistan while all the tougher issues were still out there. Can we convert "Sports diplomacy" into confidence building measure and move towards a peaceful dialogue? This is something worth considering. We believe that fundamental problem between India and Pakistan is not that we are the same people by virtue of a shared history or different people because of religions. The fundamental problem is that of intolerance, mistrust and lack of pragmatic and humane vision and approach. In pursuance of objective of " Peaceful-Coexistence " we appeal to the Governments of India and Pakistan-:
* To put an immediate halt to the arms race between the two countries and thereby saving mare than a billion lives from a probable nuclear holocaust; To jointly undertake effective measures to stop the menace of smuggling, narcotics and terrorism.
* To allow free exchange between people of SAARC countries by doing away with visa and other restrictions.
* To expand the area of co-operation in trade, cultural exchange, communication and tourism.
* To encourage academics and students exchange by short trip spending a semester or two in each other’s campus.
* To encourage exchange of News and Electronic media correspondents on both sides and their access to each other’s newspapers and political leaders.
* To reduce propaganda against each other and discourage Selective use of information, Selective use of historical record and Negative image building
* To find and encourage the avenues for expressing opinion and views of common man and not merely restricting it to elite and intellectuals. We in South Asia have not seen peace since our colonial masters left our shores more than fifty years ago. 

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