India-Pakistan Talks: Nepali Viewpoint

Neighbours talk. Kathmandu Post.
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By Dinesh Wagle

May be they should have installed a closed circuit TV camera inside the hall sending live feeds over the Web. That could have saved millions of people from confusion. No one knows for sure what exactly happened inside Hyderabad House, a New Delhi landmark, where foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan held talks on Thursday. After the talks held out of the media glare were over, the leaders of the delegations went to address the press separately to provide conflicting details of the talks. Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said the discussions were mainly focused on the issue of terrorism and briefly touched Kashmir while her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir stated the exact opposite. The same contrast was splashed all over the front pages of newspapers of both countries on Friday with Indian media persons blaming the Pakistani side for trying to score points over the talks and their Pakistani counterparts stating that no progress was made at the meeting as India “engaged in a game of doubletalk, saying one thing while meaning the other”.

Nothing different was expected, in fact, from both sides as we know they have very different concerns and priorities. While terrorism is an issue of the topmost importance to India, Pakistan can’t put Kashmir aside. India wants Hafiz Saeed, a man it thinks plotted and executed the Mumbai attack, to be arrested and tried in Pakistan. India said that it submitted three dossiers to Pakistan detailing anti-India activities of terrorists based in Pakistan. Maintaining that the talks shouldn’t be limited to the issue of terror, Pakistan, on the other hand, wanted to discuss India’s violations of the Indus Water Treaty that concerns sharing the water of six rivers that flow into Pakistan through India’s Jammu and Kashmir.

Despite their contrasting interests, I believe, Indians and Pakistanis should get some inspiration from the Oscar-nominated movie Invictus that is now being screened around the world. I am well aware that cinemas and international diplomacy are two different things. But then this movie is based on a true story, and this is the part of the subcontinent where movies are integrated deeply into the people’s lifestyles. Based on Nelson Mandela’s effort to unify his racially divided post-apartheid South Africa by using the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the movie depicts how people can rebuild a society by choosing to forgive the enemy and appreciate one another. Blacks hate whites and whites dislike blacks. Blacks are in a majority, whites control the economy. Whites jailed him for years in a small cell, blacks voted him to the mammoth presidential palace. Demonstrating true leadership, Mandela persuades his black compatriots by example to forget the past, forgive the enemy and join hands with them to build a nation, the rainbow nation.

While travelling around India, I have experienced firsthand the deep resentment that many ordinary Indians harbour against Pakistanis, in many cases for no convincing reason. I am sure the same happens with ordinary Pakistanis. A receptionist at a Mumbai hotel in July told me he would cut a Pakistani or a Bangladeshi into pieces if they ever came to his hotel. “I am neither of them, but also not an Indian,” I said. “I am from Nepal. Am I welcome here?”

“Arre yar, Nepali toh apne hi hey,” he said. (Nepalis are our own, my friend.)

I was relieved to hear that; nevertheless, I remained disturbed for several days by the man’s hatred against his other neighbours. That was the same kind of hatred that existed for many years in South African society even after the end of apartheid.

The Thursday talks might not have been a ground breaking event, but they have certainly paved the way for future talks and negotiations between the two powerful neighbours. The South Asian rivals were officially talking for the first time after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks that almost pushed them into war. Hawks in India were talking about “bombing Pakistan in retaliation” while their counterparts on the other side of the border were no less enthusiastic about fighting. As time passed, all that raw emotion and anger evaporated and common sense prevailed even though the main opposition party in India, the BJP, is opposing the diplomatic move arguing that not talking (to Pakistan) can also be an option. Many fundamentalists in Pakistan are also voicing the same, disappointing many others who see engaging with India as the only means to build a better relationship. The recent Pune attacks provided hardliners and anti-talk camps yet another reason to reassert their stand.

But that didn’t discourage the Indian prime minister from initiating the process of dialogue with Pakistan. Some say India initiated the dialogue process only after “a gentle prodding” or “a sustained pressure” from the Americans. Whatever the propeller may be, something good has started which hopefully will reduce the hostility that exists between the neighbours.

This article first appeared on today’s Op-Ed of the Kathmandu Post





5 responses to “India-Pakistan Talks: Nepali Viewpoint”

  1. zulu Avatar

    I would not assume all whites hate all blacks and vice versa.
    There was a tremendous Anti Appartheids Movement internationally Nelson Mandela was like God to most of the world. I shall never forget walking in the mexican capital and I felt an important gathering happened it was NELSON MANDELA. There is nobody like him in the world and his sucessor Chris Hine was shot that was a sad day in history. I think the true democratic and true peoples’movements exist. Caste system is a lot like apartheid I agree. To overcome apartheid within our own minds and to understand that we coloured or half couloured people, or poor country people are sometimes better than the materialistic ones in their 5 star living standards. The argument of terrorism is scary partly one has to keep safety and security, on the other hand abuse of power is a reality. With the wrong motivation they are destroying Europe in their zeal to lock the home. The ongoing anti muslim hatred is not helpful to anyone, it poisons Europe, dividing us and them. Religion being the solution and cause of the problems people should be a little tolerant of others’beliefs. And remember that the only true problem poverty and lack of employment is a common one, or ecological unbalances.
    If hindus and muslims had been able to coexist there would be no terrorism.

  2. nepalidiot Avatar

    Ofcourse war is not the solution. Both the countries cant afford it. I dont know how to comment on “Kashmir” issue. I am not neutral but also dont have any idea if there exists a long term solution. The “Indian Media” never tells any story from “Kashmir” point of view. I am mentioning this because its this indian media which has invaded Nepal too. Most of the youngsters and teenagers have become expert in hurling stones in gullis of Srinagar. The police (CRPF) has been unable to stabilise it. They are looking for new ways to handle them. The recent one being a proposal of organising “Galli” Cricket among those stone hurling groups. Funny isn’t it?
    Kashmiris arent happy, both in POK and in India. Those from POK join the islamic fundamentalists (in Indian media they are terrorist groups). In India any Islamic Fundamentalists are labeled as being “Terrorist Organization” and on the other hand Shiv Sena keeps enjoying its “Goondaraj”.
    Then this is the reality.
    Lets get back to point about Nepali Viewpoint.
    I feel proud of being a Nepali. On the other hand I also feed proud of being a Hindu. I am not a hardliner but whatever the Kashmiri Pandits had to face is not entirely acceptable. Most of those have settled in Delhi now. There are hardly any kashmiri brahmins left in the valley.
    Our forefathers (Nepali Brahmins) were chased away by Mughal soldiers from Kashmir. That was long ago when power and politics spoke “Sword Language”. But the condition hasnt improved a bit. For instance, the killing of Three Sikh youngsters in Pak last week. One of my punjabi colleague was furious. It was something that i felt few years back when nepalis were beheaded in Iraq. I was among those in streets of kathmandu foulmouthing muslims. I feel bad. I dont want to pretend being a peace loving man , here. Sometimes agressive steps are necessary.

  3. typewriter Avatar

    Actually the tendency towards growing agressivity is very very present in Europe as well, since I was more in Nepal than in Europe I lost touch now I see it is the same, mostly exactly youngsters who ask for somebody set them a limit. They attack bus drivers without reason, people are afraid to go out in the streets and so on.
    The problem now that we have elections tomorrow is small fascist and racist parties play into feelings of insecurity. It is the first time in my life I feel compelled to vote something conservative and solid as if it were strategically speaking to set a limit to new fascism and racism as well as promote cooperation. In the elderly home where my parent resides one lady asked why our country changed. I cannot answer it is not because of the foreigners. Maybe those days they ( who are old now) were too stuck on their identities. When you die it does not matter you were a hindu or a muslim or a non believer. Though that depends upon what u like to believe.
    Maybe people should not believe so much but work to help create jobs for young generations.

  4. […] Talks: Nepali Viewpoint (February 28, 2010) – [read more]By Dinesh Wagle May be they should have installed a closed circuit TV camera inside the hall […]

  5. siva Avatar

    There is deep hatred of pakistan within indian people, and I am told pakistanis reciprocate the feeling. But most indian hatred is due to terror attacks. The feeling in India towards pakistan dips low after a terror attack and then goes back to normal after few months(while still being negative).
    The hatred of India in pakistan( or bangladesh/nepal/srilanka) is due to big brotherly attitude of GOI( I am told) .
    Terror attacks can be stopped, and pakistanis will be welcome again in India(mostly). But can GOI ever do anything that people of neighboring countries consider as friendly? I seriously doubt that.

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