Pursuit of Peace – Indo-Pak Relations
Anthology of essays
Editor: O.P. Shah
Published by the Centre For Peace & Progress
Price: INR 600; USD 11.
Aiming for improvement in India-Pakistan relations, 50 intellectuals, activists and political figures from India and Pakistan have come together to produce a book titled ‘Pursuit of Peace – Indo-Pak Relations’. The book containing suggestions for measures to achieve mutual understanding was released in a well-attended virtual event on Saturday.
The book, a collection of articles by intellectuals, political and social activists from India and Pakistan discussing strategies for improving Indo-Pak relations was conceived and edited by O.P. Shah, Chairman, Centre for Peace and Progress, Kolkatta. The aim is to deepen mutual understanding of different points of view in both countries to help speed up the process of dialogue. The authors believe that dialogue is essential to bridge the trust deficit between the nuclear-armed neighbours that share a land border.
Approaching the 75th anniversary of India and Pakistan’s independence, it is important to take stock, said O.P. Shah. The Centre for Peace and Progress has been organising dialogues over the last 30 years to bridge the divide. “We believe that it is critical that civil society in India and Pakistan takes the lead in progressing the peace talks between the two countries, to resolve our mutual differences, in addition to the efforts made by our two governments,” he said, speaking at the event.
Also speaking online at the event, former union finance minister Jaswant Sinha commented, “As we are going through worst of the times, peace is vital” .
Governments come and go, but the nation stays, added Farooq Abdullah, former union minister and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, one of the book’s contributors. He urged “everyone” to play their part in restoring peace so that the citizens of both countries could meet each other frequently and contribute to “twin nation building”.
The two women contributors to the anthology are both from Pakistan, veteran peacebuilder Anis Haroon, and Naureen Farooq Ibrahim Khan, a member of parliament from the ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
Longtime cultural activist Harsh Narayan has penned a chapter on the critical role played by the exchange of art, culture and cinemato dilute misunderstanding and create empathy for each other’s point of views.
Several other dignitaries and retired diplomats spoke at the event including other contributors to the book like former Pakistan ambassador to India former diplomat Abdul Basit, former Indian union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, former member of parliament Balbir Punj, Sudheendra Kulkarni, and ex-governor Tathagata Roy.
All of them stressed the need to ease relations and pursue the path of peace for the sake of the people of both countries and for progress in the region.
Neel Kamal is a senior reporter with The Times of India in Bathinda, Punjab. This piece is a slightly edited version of the report first published in TOI on 15 January 2022.