This morning at LLF2015 i caught up the earliest session that was on “Peace between India and Pakistan”. John Elliot, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Hina Rabbani Khar, Shekhar Gupta and and Najam Sethi, were invited to the discussion session, Anticipating Peace: India and Pakistan. John Elliot was the moderator of the session and said, “I am happy to be here. The Lahore Literary Festival is at par with the Jaipur Literary Festival, one of the biggest in the region.” The discussion started with the new Indian government’s attitude toward Pakistan and whether Prime Minister Modi’s stance on Pakistan was hardening perceptions in the country.
Mr Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan, who was deeply involved in the peace process between Pakistan and India during 2002 and 2007, talked about the importance of establishing peace in the region and how close the two countries came to finding a way out of the deadlock in his time as Foreign Minister. He said it was incumbent upon any responsible government to work for peace in order to ameliorate the pathetic condition of 600 million people in both countries living below the poverty line. Responding to a question about whether the Pakistan Army was a hurdle to establishing peace in the region, Mr Kasuri talked about how the Pakistan Army supported his initiatives for peace. “I know how they (Pakistan Army leadership) think, because I dealt with them for five years. They supported a just peace to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. It took three years for us to reach where we did. We would have never come that far if the Pakistan Army didn’t support us.” “There is an entire chapter in my upcoming book on the Pakistan Army. I have discussed it (the issue) at great length, because the Indians used to tell me that the Pakistan Army was a hurdle in peace between the two countries.” Mr Kasuri was invited before the launch of his upcoming book, Neither a Hawk nor a Dove, a book mainly about his time as Foreign Minister of Pakistan from 2003 to 2007.
Mr Shekhar Gupta talked about the changing political climate in the region and how this could be used to finding solutions to old issues. He said, “India is not always on front pages in Pakistan anymore. It is focused internally. India is also not focused on Pakistan. There is a new generation of people on both sides.” Former Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar said, “The state on both sides has entrenched hate in its people. Both have formed their identity on that basis.” She stressed the importance of working through the small issues before attempting to come to an agreement over bigger issues such as Kashmir. Najam Sethi said, “Pakistan’s obsession with India was woven into the fabrics of the Pakistani state.” He talked about how the governments on both sides must stop looking at short term objectives and aim for the long run benefits of establishing peace between the two countries.
Here are some of my tweets from the session: