By Shahid Shah
Social scientist, author and vice rector of Institute of Business and Technology (Biztek) Academics Dr Riaz Ahmed Shaikh is all for the Aman Ki Asha initiative of the Jang Group and Times of India. Talking to The News, he shares some ideas to take the concept further.
Take it to the people
"Aman ki Asha banners are more visible in Delhi than Karachi. There should also be meetings on Aman ki Asha at PMA House (the Pakistan Medical Association office in Karachi, where seminars are often held). We should strike in people's minds. Unless there is pressure, the governments will not think about these things."
Cultural, literary, and educational exchanges
"Culture is part of civilisation, and often proves stronger than religion.
Artists and academics of India and Pakistan share ties, and should be allowed to hold exchanges. We could get the best artists from India for our National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA), but we don't permit them. Similarly, there should be exchanges of teachers and students. Why shouldn't Chandigarh and Lahore students be allowed to study at each other's universities?"
Hold joint festivals, promote common heroes
There must be an exchange of common people, celebrating festivals together. Why do we forget Bhagat Singh and Obedullah Sindhi? Gautam Buddha is a common figure. People on both sides revere Ajmer Sharif. We should invite Indians to the Marvi mela and the Urs of Qalandar Lal Shahbaz. Scholars at Jawaharlal Nehru University have worked on Sachal Sarmast - they would love to come here. A tolerant society can be created when you create larger groups and listen to the people from across the border like Kuldip Nayyar and Arundhati Roy."
Doctors and health care
India's health system is amongst the best in the world. Why should we go to the western countries? Why don't we allow Indian doctors come here?" (Editor's note: see Padma Rao Sundarji's excellent article in Outlook, about cancer patients from Pakistan and elsewhere in India: 'The Crab Knows The Way' http://bit.ly/ay8Brt)
De-militarised zones and the EU example
"North Korea and South Korea have 'de-militarised zones', places where families can meet and exchange food and other items. We can follow their example and can do this in Kashmir and Thar.
Then there is the model of the European Union (EU), where 27 countries maintain their own distinct identities under one banner, allowing each other's citizens to cross borders without visas, and live and work in other countries."
Work together on ecology, food and water issues
"Patent registration for Basmati rice is an issue for both countries. Tharparkar, Cholistan and Rajasthan face the same problem of water scarcity. Food shortage will hit both countries at some point. Due to similar ecological conditions, joint research can provide benefit to the people of both countries. Both should sit together and plan for next 50 years for the benefit of their people".
"The continuity of democratic system in Pakistan is necessary for peace and development in the region. Democratic governments supported the peace initiative but Musharraf took decisions alone".
If Pakistan has to survive it can only survive in the name of secularism. It cannot survive in the name of religion. Modern states are in the denial of religious concepts.
Unfortunately, the history syllabus in Pakistan starts after arrival of Muhammad Bin Qasim in 712 AD. This civilization is 5,000 years old as evidenced by the existence of Gandhara and Mohenjodaro.
Accept Partition, move on
"The Partition of India is a reality and we must accept it. But we must stop seeing India as the enemy. Because of the continuing hostility between the two countries, Pakistan continues to concentrate on defence rather than the prosperity of its own people. In India, the perception that Muslims will remain enemies of India must be countered. What went wrong in history should be checked. Old people from both sides - Hindu, Sikh and Muslim - should sit together and resolve the conflict."
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
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Page 14 of 175
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