It was enlightening to read “Khuda Hafiz Pakistan” by Nirupama Subramanian (March 20). I too subscribe to the view that the sub-continent needs small bridges of understanding to be built by ordinary citizens of India and Pakistan. Unfortunately, the fate of bilateral relations has been determined by state machineries which indulge in spreading insecurity and hate. State-centric relations are bound to be hostile as the ruling elites use hostility to strengthen their support base to perpetuate their predominance.

At times, domestic factors excessively influence foreign policy and diplomatic behaviour for short-term gain. Whenever regimes face serious internal challenges, the political class, in connivance with the media, raises the bogey of foreign threat to externalise domestic threats. Only independent individual initiatives can bring the people of the two countries closer. Ordinary people have the highest stake and they must, therefore, seize the initiative as peace-makers.

Indra Mohan Jha,

New Delhi

The article is a brilliant write-up on the complex love-hate relationship between India and Pakistan. I have firsthand experience of interacting with the Pakistani staff working under me and Pakistani colleagues of equal rank. While the staff were deferential and hardworking, my colleagues had a chip on their shoulders. When it came to Kashmir, they would invariably display their Islamist solidarity and justify their country's interference in the State.

As Ms Subramanian has stated, efforts at genuine peace and friendship should begin at the ordinary people's level. Politicians, bureaucrats and the military establishment on both sides, who have a vested interest in perpetuating the status quo, cannot be trusted to work for improving bilateral ties.

C.P. Srinivasan,

Chennai

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