Monday, September 19, 2011

The Great Divide

The Great Divide

Nasa recently released this picture taken from the International Space Station. Perhaps for the first time in history, the subcontinent has been photographed in a single shot. It is heartbreaking to see that the political differences which divide more than 1.5 billion cricket-loving, film-loving and generally peaceloving people of the subcontinent are obvious even from space.

Much blood has been meaninglessly spilled along this border that separates people who were essentially one, less than a hundred years ago. Now with modern weapons and nuclear arsenals backing the two huge conventional forces of the two nations, any future conflict shall only be worse. No conflict, however small or large, regardless of the result leaves behind ugly scars of unforgettable human suffering.  Over the past two years I happened to have the opportunity of interacting and making friends with sons and daughters of men who fought in the shortest Indo-Pak war, the Kargil conflict (in which India emerged ‘victorious’) and these interactions have only strengthened this view.

Had there been no partition in 1947, inter alia, we would have been able to see the dream team of players like Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Wasim Akram, Javed Miandad, and Sachin Tendulkar play alongside each other. While there is no real point in looking back at such “what if” scenarios, I do hope that at the very least, the subcontinent does not have to witness any more bloodshed over this border. 

It is sad that these days, whenever a list of the most important issues that the government needs to urgently deal with is prepared, “The Indo-Pak peace process” rarely finds a place in it. It has been assumed by much of the Indian society that the Indo-Pak ‘problem’ cannot be solved and the peace process shall never meet success. In my opinion it should be the topmost priority of any government that comes to power in either country.

A very encouraging initiative that Times of India and the Jung group of Pakistan had launched a while ago was the ‘Aman ki Asha’ campaign to encourage people to people ties between the two nations. I hope they are still continuing this unique effort. Only when the people of each country forget the militaristic nationalism encouraged by the political parties and realise how similar the cultures of the two nations are shall there be a real hope of peace and fraternity between the two.

Looking at the great divide today, I wish that I, not only not see any Indo-Pak war in my lifetime but also that I see a time when such conflict is unimaginable and the great prominent border in the picture is largely meaningless. I fervently hope this wish of mine comes true. 

Lahore and Amritsar : So close, yet so far!

Note: The border is prominent as an orange line in the NASA picture as a 2000km section of the border has been fenced and also floodlit by the Indian government to stop militants from infiltrating into India.