Need to arrive at practical solutions stressed
CHENNAI: "Fifty eight years of not knowing each other" is the "main problem" between India and Pakistan, said Pakistani scholar and defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa.
Hence, "peace is going to come very slowly" since "mistrust [between the two countries] is very high and it is not going to go away."
Part of the problem with the bilateral talks was that people had high expectations that were difficult to meet. In the past 58 years since Independence "a lot has happened to each other." "Pakistan, like India, has acquired its own identity. People in Pakistan have become comfortable with the idea of Pakistan," Dr. Siddiqa said, at a lecture on `Security perspectives from Pakistan.' It was organised by the Centre for Security Analysis and the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, University of Madras, here on Tuesday.
She said that she had often heard from people in the Indian security establishment and think tanks that Pakistan was marginal to India's security thinking. "I am happy each time I hear this," she said. Citing an example, she said that one former Indian diplomat, who adopted the same line at a conference, ended up opening and closing his presentation with Pakistan. Such examples abound, she added.
A `weak-Pakistan-trying-to-survive' was an image that she had found in the corridors of New Delhi, Washington DC and elsewhere. This was not true. But "there is a sense of insecurity especially since 1971," she said, and added that like any breakaway part the country had "deep concerns." "Anybody who wants to understand Pakistan's security perspective should understand its insecurity." It was this "fixation with India" that led Pakistan to look outside - to the United States and China. The role of the U.S. was that of a "referee" during an India-Pakistan conflict and China was "a friend in need."
The Head of the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, University of Madras, Gopalji Malviya, noted that "an acceptable solution" to the India-Pakistan problems "remains a dream," and added that the "road to peace was long and bumpy."
Stressing the need to arrive at practical solutions, he pointed out that the best chance was the present, when leaders and civil society leaders knew each other well and had emotional linkages .
M. Kesava Menon, Deputy Editor, The Hindu , who presided, said India-Pakistan relations were "far more positive than a few years ago" and "candid." However, both sides were not making as much progress as desired by people. One had to remember that Pakistan was "not a misguided younger sibling" but a vibrant country that had its own hopes and dreams.