Geetanjali Minhas | December 24, 2015 | Mumbai
Urging people of India and Pakistan to come together and take forward the history of shared legacy, Hameed Haroon, CEO of Karachi-based Dawn media group, said that both the nations must strengthen their identities as southeast Asian countries and not as India and Pakistan individually.
“We should know that we are indigenous people from Indus civilisation. You cannot be holy Indians without us and we cannot be holy Pakistanis without you,” said Haroon adding that it is important for governments to structure the nature of their relationships.
“We, as people, have to take matters in our own hands, because it’s our shared legacy. Both governments have not shown enough responsibility for the last 65 years,” he added while delivering a speech on ‘India and Pakistan: Reconciliation through Rediscovery of the Shared Past’ in Mumbai. The event was organised by the Observer Research Foundation.
Haroon was hopeful of the renewed mutual interest between the two nations. “We should encourage them further. So far the relations between the two nations are the result of bad governance. If we have to stand out as world powers then we must work together as nations of southeast Asia and as not individual countries.”
“The Berlin Wall between the two nations must be broken by the people”, the media mogul added.
Haroon also said that it was important to understand the common history of the two nations and to allow greater interaction between academics from both the places. “In 1947, we witnessed partition but the bigger and the far more harmful partition happened in the year 1965 when intellectuals of the two countries had to cut off.
“If our universities and institutions of formal education are not allowed to interact with each other where will they go? Universities in India and Pakistan need to change their thinking and allow the intelligentsia to understand each other’s languages and interact.”
Speaking on Kashmir issue, he said, “Both India and Pakistan have been taking advantage and exploiting the Kashmiris. We have been violating 15-20 years of Pakistani demographic constitution and India has been violating 65 years of constitution. If Pakistan government realises that part of its duty is to speak to citizens across the border and bring them into confidence then the Indian government has to speak to Pakistani citizens in the same way.”
“Since you [both the countries] are making policies without taking public opinion into account, they are not speaking for Pakistan, India or Bangladesh. They are only speaking for their own political survival and machinations. We need responsible political rhetoric from all southeast Asian countries,” he added.
Expressing hope to have a crowdsourced project that enables people from the partition generation to share their experiences, Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman, ORF, said that the ORF is working on a project under which Pakistan will be able to reopen its consulate in Mumbai, and India will be able to reopen its consulate in Karachi. ORF is in talks with Mumbai University to start a centre for South Asian Studies and conduct Marathi and Gujarati festivals in Karachi.
“We want to partner with journalist organisations in Karachi for a media exchange and hope for taking a peace force from Mumbai to Karachi and vice versa,” added Kulkarni.
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