Chetan Upadhyaya – Sify.com December 31, 2008
A war between India and Pakistan is unthinkable, believes Shah Zaman Khan, Minister, Press, at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.
The war hysteria in both nations is being fuelled by “one common enemy that does not want India and Pakistan to be friends,” the senior Pakistani diplomat asserts. “What we have seen in Mumbai is altogether a third party conspiracy.”
Khan, who has a Master’s Degree in Economics, joined the Pakistan Foreign Service in 1978, and has served as Joint Secretary of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in Islamabad and Director General of the troubled North West Frontier Province before being posted to New Delhi in late 2007.
“The media has created all these clouds and in a week or two, all these clouds of war are expected to vanish,” Khan told Chetan Upadhyaya of the Satya Foundation in an exclusive interview. Khan also answered two other questions from people who phoned in during this interview.
The war of words between India and Pakistan is at its peak. Media reports warn about heightened tensions and a possible war between the countries…
In my opinion, neither the public nor the leadership in India and Pakistan want any war. Whatever talks we are hearing about the war, it is all due to the media hype. The media has created all these clouds and in a week or two, all these clouds of war will vanish completely. And once again, India and Pakistan will hopefully resume the normal dialogue and talk process.
If two Germanys can reunite, why can’t India and Pakistan? We were separated just 61 years ago, and the wounds and pain still linger. So many explosions in Pakistan and in India. Do you think that the time has come when we promote the concept of no boundary and no guns and bombs?
In my opinion, India and Pakistan can stay as two different entities, but in a dignified way. They can present an example of two friends who live separately, but harmoniously. The border is a geographical reality, and we cannot deny its existence. Every country has its own sovereignty and independence. We can maintain the individual existence and still maintain peace, friendship and brotherhood. We can live like good friends. What we have seen in Mumbai is altogether a third party conspiracy. There is one common enemy that does not want India and Pakistan to be friends. It is very necessary to remove that common enemy and that is possible only when we have mutual cooperation and trust and India and Pakistan help each other in eradicating this common enemy. Let the two countries not exploit each other’s weaknesses rather help each other in these trying conditions.
All this is the result of an international conspiracy?
Yes, it is all their game and both of us are suffering. It is high time that both India and Pakistan start accepting the reality and unite against international conspiracies. Let’s not be exploited by others. We must not allow ourselves to play in the hands of others.
Could you elaborate?
In order to promote their arms and ammunition, some powers are trying to ignite war between India and Pakistan. The arms lobby is forcing these powers to go with the “divide and rule” policy. This will stop only when India and Pakistan start realising that they are ‘lost’ brothers. The majority of us love each other. Only few rotten fish cannot continue to pollute the entire pond…! We must fight the terror collectively, without falling prey to the negative elements, which want both India and Pakistan to be broken into pieces. We all want peace and silence. The whole region is sick of the bloodshed and mayhem. After all, who knows the plight of terrorism more than Pakistan? We lost so many leaders and common men and women and innocent children. So many of our women became widows. If there are no wars, both India and Pakistan can spend more money on education, agriculture, industry, environment and employment. If we stand collectively, Pakistan and India together can show to the world that two brothers can finish the terrorism together and ensure complete peace… We are determined to give fatal blow to terrorism.
There are many organisations in South Asia that want a ‘Mahasangh’ of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and China. What do you think?
I agree with you that there should be openhearted dialogue and discussion between the people of these countries. The thoughts and emotions should find an expression. And the conspiracy of the ‘superpower’ should be exposed properly. I will not speak for the merger. All countries have their own sanctities and sovereignties and without disturbing the natural makeup of the countries, we can still go forward in the direction of complete peace and brotherhood. We must promote the political, social, cultural and economic collaboration between these countries so that there is no more bitterness and fighting amongst us. Only this way can we can develop together and create a world where there is no forward and no backward. Everyone will get equal opportunities for expansion and growth without disturbing the peace and tranquility of others. And when there is equal progress at the economic and political levels, the borders get weakened automatically. If you travel in Europe, you never come to know where is the beginning or end of the boundary of one country. You don’t need permission to go from one place to another. The same situation can come here if we can make progress in political, social and economic fields. We must start seeing each other’s progress in correct light and with a positive state of mind. We must take pride in each other’s progress. With changed state of mind, the concept of border will change and we will witness a new world.
In a recent interview with satyafoundation.com, the RSS chief, Mr. K.S. Sudarshan, said that there are good people in every religion and society and it is our duty to live in mutual harmony with each other. He also said that terrorism should not be linked to any particular religion. How do you see this?
I fully agree with Mr. Sudarshan that terrorists have no religion. They are mindless people who have actually no association with any one nation or religion. I also fully agree with his statement that there are good people, both in India and Pakistan. And as a result, we have witnessed so much of dialogue and the wave of mutual cooperation and peace process in the past few years. If one can remember, just before the Mumbai crisis, there was an atmosphere of goodwill and talks at the senior level. We believe that good people on both sides of the border are doing exemplary work for good relations and will continue with this for peace and tranquility. Let me say it categorically that this is only a temporary phase of tension, which will defuse very soon.
Do you think there is need for educating the masses, especially school students, about the real meaning of religion?
Yes, I agree with you. No religion is actually in favour of killing innocents. It is against the very nature of humanity. We need to educate our children at a very early age about the good effects of friendship and brotherhood. We need to tell them that we may live in different countries and follow different methods of worshipping the God, but in reality, love is the common and the foremost aim of our lives. In-fact Islam is the religion of peace. The very word “Islam” means peace. Killing of a human being is strictly forbidden in this religion. It propagates love and affection.
Can Student Exchange Programmes work as catalyst for spreading love and real understanding between India and Pakistan?
Yes, this is one area, which according to me, is not fully tapped yet. Children are very innocent and they do not harbour ill feelings. They are so unbiased and nearer to God. So, they can play a very important role, but a lot of efforts for such programmes need to be taken jointly by both the countries on a war footing.
Mr. Khan, this is Dr. P.H. Mishra, in Delhi: India and Pakistan were two brothers. How did they go away from each other?
I see it as some international conspiracy to create confusion and hatred amongst us. Unfortunately some of us get swayed by their Divide and Rule policy, as a result of which all are suffering. Few fish are polluting the whole pond and it is high time we expose the foreign hand in igniting the battle between the two neighbours.
Dr. Adinath Upadhyaya, Varanasi: Mr Khan, Will the Pakistani government take concrete steps or just offer lip service for ending the terrorism? Has Pakistan any time-bound and result-oriented action plan to eradicate the terrorism?
We are trying our level best, but the best thing is to give us some time. Pakistan is going through a difficult phase of its history. Its role as a front line state in the war on terror must be recognized. No one should doubt its sincerity in fighting the scourge of terrorism. It’s sacrifices in both men and material in the bloody war launched since 9/11 cannot be matched by any single country or the NATO together.
Chetan Upadhyaya is a journalist and holistic healer who contributes extensively to various newspapers/magazines. He also conducts programmes and workshops for Stress Management and total awakening of mind through music, meditation, yoga and natural lifestyle under the guidance of his Guru, Yogi Shri Ashish Chatterjee. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org