Stories about Indo-Pak relations

Four misconceptions about Narendra Modi

India’s new prime minister is a man of contradictions. He covets foreign investment and embraces globalisation, but he also speaks limited English and harbours hard-line Hindu nationalist views. He is alternately described as a pro-business reformer and an anti-Muslim ideologue. Narendra Modi, who was sworn in on Monday, is a complex figure. Not surprisingly, he is also dogged by many misconceptions. Four in particular are getting a lot of mileage these days. Now is the right time to expose them. 1. Modi has been banned from the US since 2005 Observers routinely claim that Modi has not been allowed to visit America since 2005. Actually, this is not technically true. In ...

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Will Modi be able to make peace with Pakistan?

This is the first time since 1994 that a Pakistani head of state, during his trip to India, did not meet any separatist leaders from Jammu and Kashmir. During his two-day-long stay in New Delhi last week, prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, confined himself to conversations only with the Indian leadership. Is this a change in Pakistan’s policy towards Kashmir? We all know the answer. For Islamabad, Kashmir is very much an inalienable part of its foreign policy and domestic agenda. However, Nawaz understands that raking up controversial issues only accentuates the differences between the two nations. It leads to the wastage of ...

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One-on-one with Senator Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain

The phone rings… Me: “Hello?” Person 1: “Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain aap sey baat karain ge.” (Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain would like to speak with you.) Me: “Okay.” Maintains a calm tone while jumping around Phone on-hold, music plays… Person 2: “Baat kijiye Chaudhry sahab se.” (Talk to Mr Chaudhry please) Me: “Okay.” Still jumping… Senator Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (Sen CSH): “Assalamu Alaikum, kaisi hain aap?” (May peace be upon you, how are you?) Me: “Walaikum Assalam. Main bilkul theek hoon. Aap kaise hain?” (I’m perfectly fine, how are you?) Sen CSH: “Theek. Bohat hee acha article likha hai aapne.” (I’m fine. The article you wrote was very good.) Me: “Thank you so much for your appreciation.” Sen CSH: “Jo hum apne initiative ke through message dena chah rahe thay, aapne bilkul sahi tarha woh logon tak ...

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In Pakistan and trying to read the BJP manifesto? Nope, can’t access it!

The right wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) recently released manifesto says many things – and newspapers and people all over the world tell me a lot of it is problematic. There’s something about a reversal of India’s nuclear doctrine, apparently. And an Indian friend of mine told me they might be cutting beef production. But I wouldn’t know, because I can’t access BJP’s website, and neither can anyone else in Pakistan. Interestingly, it isn’t our government that banned it; the BJP itself made its website inaccessible to people from Pakistan, citing hacking threats. While the hacking threat may not be entirely ...

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Making Democracy Real 2014: Come, let us dissolve these borders

I love being a part of events and exchanges that offer a possibility to interact closely with people from Pakistan. Hence, I was utterly pleased when I was invited to participate in the ‘Making Democracy Real 2014’ dialogue organised by Initiatives of Change at Asia Plateau in Panchgani, a five-hour drive from Mumbai. Such programmes strengthen my commitment to continue building ties with those who believe that genuine friendship between Indians and Pakistanis is possible. Held over five days, from January 10 to 14, 2014, this dialogue (they insisted on not calling it ‘conference’) brought together participants from over 30 countries ...

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Five ways to improve US policy in South Asia in 2014

If there’s one word that defines South Asia in 2014, it’s transition. Elections are scheduled in three countries – Afghanistan, India and a controversial one already held in Bangladesh on January 5. Newly elected governments face their first full year in office in four others – Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan. And hovering over this all is the international troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Amid this change and uncertainty, Washington’s chief objective for South Asia will remain the same – attaining stability. It’s an admittedly ambitious goal in a region cursed by interstate and intrastate tensions alike, and flushes with security threats that range from ...

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Dear Indian patriots, my criticism of Pakistan isn’t for your benefit!

A signature feature of a liberal is his scathing, almost treacherous, criticism of his own country’s culture and political policies.  On the other hand, the mark of a nationalist is indiscriminately defending all that occurs on his side of the border, while flinging mud on those beyond. Hence, it isn’t difficult to understand why a Pakistani liberal and an Indian nationalist would naturally bond over a cup of coffee. Ever since I decided to ‘betray’ my homeland by consorting with the liberal folk, as some conservatives would put it, my list of Indian friends has been snowballing. I am not in any way insinuating ...

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Gandhi’s forgotten sacrifice: A lesson neither India nor Pakistan learnt

At ten minutes past five on January 30, 1948, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was crucified on the cross of bitter Hindu-Muslim blood feud. This resolutely courageous man endowed with an indomitable spirit kept fighting for the Hindu-Muslim unity until he was, alas, assassinated by a Hindu extremist. The Mahatma, however, achieved in death what he could not achieve in life; peace between the two communities, although it lasted merely a brief period. The next day, in a most memorable tribute of all, the editorial of Hindustan Standard read: “Gandhi ji has been killed by his own people for whose redemption he lived. This second crucifixion in the ...

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Politicising sports needs to stop

The ICC Women’s World Cup does not usually attract the kind of attention and coverage that is given to the men’s version of the event. This time, however, there has been an upsurge in worldwide interest for the game, but not for positive reasons. As reported extensively, the recent skirmishes at the LoC had a direct impact on the gradually improving relations between Pakistan and India. Talks on bilateral trade and visa regulation lost momentum and the general feeling of goodwill was overshadowed by the resurgence of deep-rooted mistrust between both nations. The most tangible and symbolic outcome of the incident was India’s ...

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Love thy neighbour (India), it’s economically viable!

Pakistan and India have shared decades of a love-hate relationship under different regimes. The present government is leaning more towards love than hate and took the bold decision of granting most favoured nation (MFN) status to India, in order to open up trade between the two countries. Some critics hope that trade with India may dispel the impression that Pakistan is a land of fear ruled by the Taliban. The question is whether an enhanced trade relationship between the two countries will bring these two rivals closer. In recent talks held in Islamabad, India offered to set up a 2,000MW power ...

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