The London Institute of South Asia annual seminar was very well attended with interactive participation of the audience.
A comprehensive international media cover was arranged. ARY, PTV, Message TV, The Nation London, Chinese Economic Daily, Bangladesh News and China Radio International covered the event. The Seminar was chaired by Mr Alan Hart a celebrity and a man of distinction.
The seminar was addressed by the following speakers:-
Dr Ruth Kattumuri
Dr Shahid Qureshi
Dr Mazhar Ilahi
The proceedings of the seminar opened with introductory and welcome address by LISA Executive Director Saeed Ismat.
Introductory/Welcome address by Saeed Ismat
We are delighted to have you here to participate in London Institute of South Asia’s annual seminar on Prospects India Pakistan Relations.
A very warm welcomes to you all and thank you for coming. I am aware that many of you travel long distances to be here. It serves to remind us all just how important is the subject under discussion.
This subject has assumes great significance after a historic win by Narendra Modi. Can we say that it could be turning point in the relationship of India with Pakistan or would the strained relations go from bad to worse? We are looking forward to a lively and constructive discussion today. We shall also be looking forward to your suggestions and participations to promote peace in the sub continent.
We have on panel distinguished persons and I shall leave it to our Chairman for this seminar Alan Hart to introduce them to the audience. It is indeed my privilege and honour to introduce Alan Hart.
Alan Hart has been engaged with the real world for half a century. As a correspondent for ITN's News At Ten and then the BBC's Panorama Programme he covered, mainly, wars and conflicts wherever they were taking placed in the world. His first war assignment was the conflict between India and Pakistan in 1965.
In his television reporting days Alan was celebrated for his scoops, his expenses and his special relationships with leaders on both sides of the conflicts he covered. He was, for example, probably the only person in the world who enjoyed intimate access to and, on the human level, friendship with arguably the two greatest opposites in all of human history - Golda Meir, Mother Israel, and Yasser Arafat, Father Palestine.
When he got fed up with what he regarded as the superficiality of the mainstream media, he set up his own independent company to research, produce and promote the first ever and to date only documentary on the everyday reality of global poverty and its implications for all. For that effort - the two-hour documentary was titled Five Minutes To Midnight - Alan was credited with having played a leading role in getting the North-South issue on to the agenda for political and public debate.
Today he serves in the frontline of the war for the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel. His latest book, a three-volume epic in its American edition, is Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews.
Over to Alan Hart
Opening Address by Chairman
I'm not one of the speakers today but I'd like to offer you one or two overview thoughts before we get down to the substance of this seminar.
And first a question. What is the one thing above all that India and Pakistan have in common...? The short answer is SYSTEMIC CORRUPTION. Unless this cancer is cured, I see only bad times ahead for both countries.
I don't mean to imply that India and Pakistan have a monopoly on corruption. In one form or another it exists in almost every country of the world. There's a case - a very strong case - for saying that in one important respect America is the most corrupt of all countries. The essence of the case is that what passes for democracy in the U.S. is for sale to the highest lobby bidders.
In my view debate and discussion about critical issues is too often compromised by the language we use. What I mean is that key concept words have been devalued, corrupted, to the point where they are meaningless. I'll give two examples, DEMOCRACY and LOVE, to make the point.
DEMOCRACY is about much more than voting every few years to confirm a government in office or change it. For democracy to exist the citizens of nations, the voters, have to be informed enough about critical issues to call and hold their governments to account, and all the time not just at election time. I know of no country in the world where citizens, the voters, are informed enough to do that and make democracy work. So, I say, what we actually have throughout the so-called "Free World" and beyond is the framework for democracy but not the substance.
As for LOVE... We love our wives, husbands and children, but we also "love" cars and other material possessions. We "love" food and drink. We "love" clothes and hair styles and so on. What the hell does love mean...?!
Way back in the 1970's when I was making Five Minutes to Midnight, a film on the everyday reality of global poverty and its implications for all, I had a verbal confrontation with Mother Theresa in Calcutta. We had been filming her sisters of mercy plucking some of the destitute and dying from the pavements. Mother Theresa invited my film crew and I to share a frugal evening meal with her and some of her sisters. When we sat down to eat I proposed a question for discussion. What was the single most important word in any language - love or justice? Mother Theresa argued, sometimes with angry passion, for love. I argued for justice... If she was alive today I would say to her, "I don't have to love the Palestinians and Kashmiris to understand the justice of their cause and be fully supportive of it."
A last observation for now about why the whole world should care the relationship between India and Pakistan. My understanding of the balance of military power is that if ever India launched an all-out war on Pakistan, Pakistan would have to go nuclear in 48 hours.
India and Pakistan have fought wars. In fact it won’t be wrong to state that they are in a perpetual state of war. Interestingly they came closest to making peace in Agra in 2001 when Hindu BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power and Pakistan was under a military rule of General Pervez Musharraf. BJP is now back again – are we heading towards peace between two nations...... Lets us hear what our panellists have to say...
Our first speaker today is Dr Ruth Kattumuri.
Dr Ruth Kattumuri
She is Director of the Asia Research Centre and the India Observatory at the London School of Economics (LSE). In over twenty-five years of experience in education, research and policy engagement. She is advisor to various Educational Institutions in Asia and Europe. She has a PhD from LSE and is also a Cambridge Commonwealth Fellow. She is also an associate of the LSE Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. She was formerly Professor in Statistics and Computer Science, in Madras, India where she had taught and mentored several 1000 students of the ‘interphase generation’, who are influential professionals around the world.
She gave her views very calmly and in dignified manner. Dr Ruth Kattumuri agreed that there was myriad of problems accumulated over the years that have strained the relations of these nations. Her central theme was that we should not dwell on the past baggage and history of animosity but instead should move on to improve the atmosphere.
She avoided pointing out differences and did not even mention any core problem that exist She had great hopes in Narendra Modi’s vision and believed that he could lead India to have good relations with all neighbours including Pakistan. The invitation to all neighbouring head of states is historical and unprecedented and reflects his desire to improve relations with all SAARC nations.
Barrister Iftikhar Ahmed
Barrister Iftikhar Ahmad is a war veteran of Indo-Pak war of 1971, a former minister, a Senator of Pakistan and a barrister. He is a political analyst and commentator on Pakistani TV channels and BBC. He lives in London.
. He made some poignant remarks. He said that Narendra Modi with his established anti-Pakistan past will cast dark shadows over the relations between two nations. Pakistan should have viewed the oath taking invitation with caution and Nawaz Sharif’s should have resisted the juvenile temptation to have a family holiday in India. Modi’s landslide victory signifies the massive emergence of extreme right wing forces in India, demolishing the age-old deity of secularism. Its viral potential can envelope Pakistan as well, which could take both countries to the brink of yet another war, more dangerous this time than any other in the past.
No advancement to peace can realistically emerge without addressing the security concerns of the region plagued by the war on terror. Trade facilitation appears easy and quick fix option, which on its own will merely be eyewash in the scenario where India seems to move as fast in spreading its tentacle in a Afghanistan as its race to decrease the water flow to Pakistan.
Gallimore is a graduate from London School of Economics where he did his BA and focused on Indian Rebellion of 1857. He has masters in International Relations from Kings College.
He has also studied at Oxford University. He served the British Army (Welsh Guards) with distinction and is veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq.
He is an expert on Afghanistan where he served as Officer leading Afghan National Army soldiers against the Taliban in Afghanistan on three 6 month deployments. He has vast experience of Pakistan where he is researching a film on Pakistani soldiers and officers.
Robert Gallimore said that he found a great deal of animosity against Pakistan in the Afghan National Army and the Afghan leadership at all level. They complained of excessive interference by the ISI in their affairs. ISI and Pakistan army was to be blamed for all their ills and failings. I discovered that this was totally based on falsehood and propaganda. There was not a shred of evidence to be found on these allegations on the ground. He believed this happened because of vast Indian ingress and influence in the Afghan establishment and leadership.
He believed that the great game (after departure of US forces) in Afghanistan will played by India and Pakistan. This will as usual prove disastrous for both and the best is to leave Afghanistan alone to sort them out.
Dr Shahid Qureshi
Dr Qureshi is London based senior writer/journalist on foreign policy, media and international politics. He is senior political analyst for BBC, Al-Jazeera, Press TV, GEO TV, and LBC Radio London. He is Editor of The London Post (www.thelondonpost.net). He is invited to international think tanks to discuss international strategy and politics. He frequently attends international conferences and seminars. He published his book 'War on terror and siege of Pakistan', in 2009.
He did his PhD in political psychology and MA - Advance Psychology from prestigious The Government College Lahore. He graduated in English literature and Psychology.
He was highly critical of corruption in Pakistan perpetrated by politicians and their political parties. Poor governance and lack of justice in its legal system add fuel to fire. He insists that internal political and economic dynamics of a nation have a direct bearing on its foreign policy. He was equally critical of Indian leadership.
He maintains that the India establishment is under tight and permanent control of a small minority with anti Pakistan bias. Its policy in Bangladesh shows that it does not spare even the puppets; it uses them even more blatantly to tighten its hold. The ongoing Indian state terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir and it going ached in building 150 dams there is eloquent testimony of India’s real plans – not the song and dance of Aman ki Asha.
Dr. Mazhar Ilahi
Dr Mazhar is Associate Research Fellow; Director of Sir William Dale, Legislative Drafting Clinic; Executive editor of Institute of Advance Legal Studies (IALS) Student Law Review University of London.
Apart from this he is also practicing law as Solicitor qualified in England and Wales. He has Ph.D. in legislative studies. In this respect, he has done extensive research on several aspects of the plain language movement of writing of laws in multilingual jurisdictions while particularly focusing on Islamic Republic of Pakistan as a case study. His other research interest includes international law, statutory interpretation and comparative research in the field of legislative studies.
He produced a interesting research paper on Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan highlighting some of it legal inadequacies and suggested a way forward to address the water distribution between Pakistan and India and Pakistan and Afghanistan (in view of Indian financed dams being constructed on Kabul River)
He said the composition of the consultative groups who prepared the Indus water treaty primarily comprised the engineers representing both the counties. This has not proved to be a good idea and certain inadequacies of the Treaty of 1960 have given rise to controversies and possible confrontation between the two countries.
The water is no more a matter for engineers alone and that it is a complex, multi-dimensional substance that demands an inter-disciplinary study.
We must indeed go beyond Indus Water Treaty today and take these matters on board but eventually Indus Water Treaty needs to be replaced by a very different, holistic, wise and harmonious treaty. Unfortunately, that will have to wait for a time when the relations between the two countries have ceased to be pathological.
Saeed Ismat is an expert in defence and diplomacy. He has been a celebrated soldier who was commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. And a graduate from Fort Leavenworth USA. He is war veteran and received one of the highest gallantry awards of Satara Juraat.
He has a distinguished career of a diplomat and has served in Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Azerbaijan where he was Pakistan’s ambassador.
He holds Master’s degrees in Defence, Strategic Studies and War studies from Islamabad university. He was on the faculty of the National Defence University where he taught operational strategy. He worked as a defence analyst for various TV channels
He is the editor of LISA JOURNAL a quarterly magazine published by the London Institute of South Asia and a member of editorial board for the Defence Journal. He is the executive director of London Institute of South Asia.
Peacemaking is the most important issue not only for both the countries but also for the region, particularly Afghanistan. Some people believe that only political will is required to improve relations between India and Pakistan. This is rather simplistic and I do not think that is completely true as there are structural obstacles and historical baggage to overcome.
As if things were not bad as they stood but now with the rise of RSS in power the prognosis are ominous and awesome. The RSS ideology is the” Indian incarnate of Fascism” that is driving force for BJP and in particular Narendra Modi.. The ultra religious fanaticism, the concept of Akhand Bharat (most of South Asia as India), the loyalty to Hindu nationalism are the ideological foundations of modern day Indian fascism.
Talking about fascism - till the rise of Modi one wondered how can RSS inspired movement be a fascist as there is no charismatic leader, and fascism cannot function without a charismatic leader. Modi has emerged and filled that role.
Whereas Nawaz Sharif is bending over backwards to improve relations with India and seek settlement of core issues, there is hardly any enthusiasm visible in New Delhi for undertaking a major foreign policy initiative towards Pakistan. On the contrary, Indian leaders have come to focusing exclusively on a single point agenda of terrorism, in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. This is a non-starter. This single point agenda and mantra of only bilateral discussions of all issues have run out of steam. This policy has to change if we are to have a meaningful solution of the issues.