India and Pakistan: Together Forging a New way Forward

A group essay of five eminent academicians

Introduction

A business professor Robert E. McNulty, Director of Programs of Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University, USA gathered four business professors ‘two from India and two from Pakistan, respectively to discuss how to use their expertise to improve the relationship between the two countries by promoting business. The participants are as follows:

Mr. Hashir Ibne Irshad, Assistant Professor at the Foundation for Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) in Islamabad, Pakistan; Dr. Huma Naz Siddiqi Baqai, Associate Professor at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi Pakistan. While Mr. Jerome Joseph, senior professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India; and Ms. Simrit Kaur, professor at the University of Delhi, New Delhi, India.

Brief Overview
For too long the good peoples of Pakistan and India have been held hostage to a conflict that should have been resolved decades ago.  As a result, countless lives have been lost, millions of people have been kept in a state of insecurity and poverty, economic opportunities have been squandered, and the goodwill of cultural exchanges has been sacrificed.  This sorry state of affairs has global implications, especially since both countries are nuclear powers. Too much ransom has been paid.  The time has come to forge a new way forward, based on direct people-to-people cooperation that serves the mutual benefit of both countries, the region, and the world.  With this mind, we, the five authors of this essay, came together for a week at Bentley University in Massachusetts, USA, to discuss how we in business and academia could work to advance peace at the direct people-to-people level. What follows are our initial thoughts.

Our youths can be especially vulnerable to the poisonous climate of violent extremism.  As every parent knows, the most powerful way to communicate values is to model them ourselves.  We as teachers can do that by working collaboratively across borders.  And likewise, our students will benefit if we can afford them opportunities to learn together by participating in educational exchanges.
A People-to-People Approach to Peacemaking
The approach to peacemaking we are calling for does not depend on summit meetings, ambassadors, or peace treaties. Rather, the approach we are advocating is direct, people-to-people peacemaking that goes by the name ‘Pax Populi.’  According to this approach, rather than negotiating a cessation of violence between hostile parties, we look to ordinary people working through education and economic development within a context of human rights to pursue constructive exchanges among parties to a conflict.  In this way, peace is seen as both the logical context and sustaining climate for healthy relations.  Just as happiness cannot be forced, but is an outcome of a life well lived, so too, peace is an out come of respectful relations among people of goodwill.  Can such relations exist between the peoples of India and Pakistan? We must not lose sight of the fact that positive relations can and they already do exist among many of our citizens.  It is time to stop fabricating impediments to normal relations, and instead do whatever we can to rediscover our brotherhood forcibly suppressed through fear and selfishness.

A Special Role for Academia

Although there is an especially important role for business, the Pax Populi-people-to-people peacemaking applies to all sectors of society, and especially to those of us in academia. It is a sad fact that since partition not only have our commercial exchanges suffered, our academic interactions have been restricted by visa regimes that prevent rather than facilitating free travel and interactions. There is no concept of research visas between our two countries. If anything, it has been discouraged. And yet, the more that we can share information and work together, the better we can advance our research and build our respective institutions.

Our youths can be especially vulnerable to the poisonous climate of violent extremism.  As every parent knows, the most powerful way to communicate values is to model them ourselves.  We as teachers can do that by working collaboratively across borders.  And likewise, our students will benefit if we can afford them opportunities to learn together by participating in educational exchanges.

Let us provide opportunities for the youths of both our countries to demonstrate their leadership potential. They are smart and motivated.  If we want to see Pakistan’s economy grow at levels similar to India, let’s open the doors of cooperation among our youths; with a decade of free cooperation among Indian and Pakistani youths, they will show their elders what we could not achieve in a half century. It will be our children who model for us the brotherhood we should never have let slip away.
From Dream to Reality
It’s time to stop thinking that peace as if it were an impossible dream. It is not. Peace is the condition in which both of our peoples will grow and flourish.  What is unnatural is our current state of conflict.  For our own sake and that of our children, this must change.We cannot speak of peace without knowing that the specter of violence is never far away. But rather than letting our destinies to be controlled by the forces of hatred, let us heed of words of Abraham Lincoln: ‘We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.’  In our hearts, we all know that our two peoples are better and stronger as friends, and as friends we are much better able to find solutions to even the most difficult problems.For reasons that none of us are disputing, sixty-five years ago, the subcontinent was partitioned into two countries. This was a painful experience and many individuals and families suffered enormously as a consequence.  That suffering continues to intrude into the lives of our two people and overwhelm our relations.  Sadly, we have become so accustomed to this story of painful brokenness that we fail to see what has remained intact, which is that despite our independence, we remain part of the same family, with more in common than probably any two countries on earth.  We urgently need to embrace a new shared narrative; rather than a tragedy, built on a bitter story of hatred, mistrust, and conflict, let us commit ourselves to a new story in which the triumph of brotherhood brings with it the fruits of trust, cooperation, and a shared prosperity. In doing so, we the people of Pakistan and India can assume a new role in the great unfolding story of human civilization ‘one in which, through the power of reconciliation and friendship, a divided family was mended and the extraordinary potential of our remarkable people was set free.

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