Divide and rule OK – or co-operate and prosper?

The young Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has been playing a constructive part in improving relationships between the two countries and earlier this month, Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, made the first visit to India by a Pakistani head of state in seven years, accompanied by his son, Bilawal, who is co-chair of the ruling Pakistan’s People’s party.

On a sister site in February we posted news of the ongoing meetings between peace-loving people in India and Pakistan, and the views of Fatima Bhutto and Imran Khan who wrote about the empathy between the people of India and Pakistan, arbitrarily divided after Independence, stressing how warmly they are received in India. 

Expressing what this writer often heard in India, journalist Fatima Bhutto wrote in the Financial Times recently:

“Despite our shared heritage, culture, history, languages and memories, both India and Pakistan have managed to create the impression that there exists a gulf between their peoples. Wherever relations between the two countries can be hindered, they have been. Our phones don’t connect to each other’s countries, for ordinary travellers to get a visa is a process so complicated it may as well include a physical obstacle course, we don’t trade freely and we have even managed to turn the most boring sport in the world – cricket – into a constantly tense encounter between our peoples.

“But that’s the outside. That’s not how Indians and Pakistanis feel when they are with each other. I can think of no country in which I am more warmly received than India. (And a Pakistani passport is not exactly a hot welcome card anywhere).

And Imran Khan, pointing out that he is welcomed in India as Sachin Tendulkar is welcomed in Pakistan, recently called for a new era in the relationship between the two countries.

Next: The hopes of the border forces and the ‘peace caravans’.





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