When I heard that a seminar on Pakistan was going to take place in Delhi, I knew I just had to go for it. Named ‘Pakistan Is In the Eye of the Beholder’, this seminar took place on March 17, 2016 at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.
The panelists were pretty impressive: Pakistani journalist Husain Haqqani, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, Indian diplomat TCA Raghvan, Former Delhi police Comissioner Neeraj Kumar, Journalist Hindol Sengupta, and Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen.
I was expecting a lot from this seminar. With luminaries such as the above mentioned names, I imagined I would get a lot of insights from the panelists. The seminar quickly paid heed to my thoughts, generating into the usual Pakistan bashing.
The event started with a bit of a bummer. Hussain Haqqani from Pakistan couldn’t join the panel as he had applied too late for the visa. He joined the panel via video conferencing: Haqqani addressed the crowd with the idea of Pakistan and the question of the evening -How does Pakistan finds peace with itself and with India?
Everyone on the panel believed that Pakistan has talented people and the talent is waiting for to explode.
The talk naturally turned toward Kashmir. For Tharoor the fundamental issue was not Kashmir but the nature of the Pakistan state. According to Tharoor, “In states we have army but in Pakistan the army has the state… when Pakistan cries that the it is a victim of terrorism, what it doesn’t understand is they are home grown chickens.”
Echoing Tharoor, Neeraj Kumar said, “While India has no agenda, Pakistan wants India to bleed a 1,000 wounds, avenging the cessation of East Pakistan from West. They adopt insidious and most repetitive strategies at a time when governments of both the govt. wants to bridge the gap between people, be it 26/11, serial blasts of ’93, ’99 war, or parliament attacks or the recent Pathankot attacks, it has been same over the years.”
As for Taslima Nasreen, growing up in Bangladesh was never a pleasant memory. As a kid she remembers how Pakistani army entered her house and looted gold and other valuable things. For Bangladesh, which denied the two nation theory, is walking the same path today as of Pakistan.
Tharoor said the solution lies in exchange of artists, unilateral provision of visas (to Pakistani citizens), frequent sports tournament, trade holds the key to every solution. And when Pakistan repeats the act of back stabbing, India should severe all the trade ties with it, further affecting the economy of Pakistan.
TC Raghavan, who served in Indian high commission disagreed with Tharoor. For him engaging with Pakistan constantly is the key.
In the end, Hindol the youngest panelist of the evening, “Friendship is different between people and these two states,and shouldn’t get mixed. Whatever the solution, “If they attack Kashmir, we should have the guts to attack them in Baluchistan.”