Earlier in Forum







Q: Does people-to-people contact between India and Pakistan help the peace process?
This is the fourth instalment of readers’ response

People need to organise their effort

The people of Pakistan and India lived peacefully with each other before Partition, but the communal divide engineered by shrewd British created all types of problems. The people are still the same. They have a common language, literature and culture, but their fight against communal attitude is not organised. Mere gatherings of the people of both India and Pakistan under the patronage of power-hungry leaders will not lead us to lasting peace. People in Pakistan should raise their voice in an organised way to restore democracy and vehemently resist their dictators, who will always look to grabbing power by playing the fundamentalist card. Only the truly democratic people of both sides can raise a platform for peace.

Prof. J. B. S. NANDA (retd), Ludhiana

Stay in contact

A new relationship between any two persons can develop only through regular communication. The peace between India and Pakistan can be established if the governments of both countries encourage people-to-people contact, because it is not the common man but the political leaders who like war, as peace would alter their game plan.

VIKAS DOGRA, Nagrota Surian, Kangra

The process should go on

The Kashmir problem could not be settled after Partition, as the matter was taken to the UNO, that asked both countries to vacate the occupied areas of Kashmir and hold plebiscite in the region. More problems cropped up when Bangladesh formed a separate nation in 1971. After losing three wars to India, Pakistan realised that it would not succeed in its sinister designs through wars. It, however, resorted to waging a proxy war against India. First, Pakistan tried to spread terrorism in Punjab and then it shifted its activities to Kashmir, where its terrorists have been killing thousands of innocent people. The peace remains an illusion under these circumstances. Now both countries seem to have understood that there shall not be any plebiscite in Kashmir nor shall Pakistan vacate the occupied area of Kashmir, virtually accepting the Line of Control as a permanent border. All we can do is to let the present peace process go on and see both countries starting to live like good neighbours.


Leaders should understand public sentiment

Contact is a good for the ongoing peace process, but it holds no interest for those who occupy the high posts in New Delhi and Islamabad. Though people-to-people contact helps create a good atmosphere for peace, peace largely depends upon the leaders of both sides. The leaders should understand the feelings of their people, which unfortunately, most politicians are not doing. It seems that their only concern towards the people is to maintain their vote bank. The peace process will not be successful until the politicians rise above politics

MAHENDER KAUSHAL, Dharmpur (Mandi)


The people of India and Pakistan have never been antagonistic; it was religion-based politics that made them sit on the opposite sides of the fence. Now awareness has spread among the masses and the people of both countries are coming close. Even today, politicians are creating hindrances in their way. The growing contact between the people will force politicians to respect the need for peace. No government can dare to overlook the sentiments of its people for a long time, as they are the ultimate power. The days are not far when there would be permanent peace on both sides of the barbed wire.


Accelerate the peace process

People-to-people contact between India and Pakistan is the only way that can lead to solving the Kashmir problem. India cannot compromise on Kashmir; and Pakistan shall not change its stance on the issue. The prejudice, suspicion and suspense of the Muslim population of Kashmir cannot be affected in any way. The Hindus, especially the displaced Pandits, can never feel safe there in the present situation. Wars and strives cannot go on forever. It is the peace that is sustainable. The people of Pakistan are now realising the importance of peace. Democracy in Pakistan shall further strengthen peace. The people-to-people contact should be accelerated at all costs.



People-to-people contact between India and Pakistan provides excellent opportunity for judging the mood and pulse of each other. The warmth with which people of India and Pakistan have greeted each other indicates that they love each other. They seem to have realised that bitterness and hatred serve no purpose. The visits by singers, artistes, players, lawyers, writers, etc. have created the atmosphere of love and affection, and the wall of discord seems to have disappeared. No doubt the wounds of Partition are deep, but the ointment of love and affection can heal these. The process of normalisation should be hastened, so that both countries are able to come closer and revitalise their economies.


Solve the Kashmir problem first

We can change our friends and foes, but not our neighbours. Pakistan seems to have learnt this. People-to-people contact is encouraging and this initiative is a good beginning towards a new era of peace and prosperity for the entire region. If the East and West Berliners can unite, why can’t Indians and Pakistanis? However, all such initiatives cannot yield results until the Kashmir problem is solved and Pakistan-sponsored terrorist activities are stopped.


People play a pivotal role

Both countries are trying their best to establish peace, which is clear from the meeting between Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf in New York, the recent visit of Pakistan Prime Minister to India, Indian government’s decision to decrease the strength of our armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir, peaceful and successful completion of the India-Pakistan cricket series and the just-concluded Champion’s Trophy hockey tournament in Pakistan and India. However, peace cannot be established until the contentious issues like the Kashmir problem and cross-border terrorism are settled. A strong political will is required to resolve these issues. Why we don’t show this will is maybe because of political compulsions or vested interests. With politicians backtracking, the people of both countries should come forward and play a pivotal role in the ongoing peace process. The people-to-people contact will help them understand each other before they can press their respective governments to find an amicable solution to all bilateral issues.

VIJAY DHIMAN, Katholi (Kangra)

Euphoria seems to be fading

Instead of dealing directly with peace, the previous government came down to people-to-people contact, opening new roads across the border, starting train and bus services, exchanging cultural troupes, religious jathas, etc. For months together, the media on both sides made a big show of it. Now that euphoria seems to be dying out and “people-to-people contact” is beginning to prove meaningless. The Kashmir issue, which is the real bone of contention between the two countries, stands as before. The whole exercise of building people-to-people contact now appears to be childish and ridiculous. We would be living in a fool’s paradise if we think that mere people-to-people contact can usher in peace, cooperation and goodwill. The intentions of terrorist outfits cannot be taken for granted, while the recent Bush-Musharraf talks on the sale of F-16 fighter planes to Islamabad tell a different tale.

Dr A. P. SHARMA, Panchkula

Peace boils down to the individual

Peace belongs to those who have faith in their efforts and sincerity in their work. If one wants peace, one should be prepared for war—war against prejudices, antipathies, self-centeredness, etc. Each individual as a human being should acknowledge his responsibility towards humanity as whole; people-to-people contact between India and Pakistan can surely curtail differences, for they share the same culture and history. These can be seen as wish-fulfilment for the great men who shared this dream for peace between the two nations. One needs to rekindle those emotions and make the people realise the goodwill that they share. Once the minds of intellectual, determined, effectual and sensitive people like journalists, scholars, singers and sportsmen are stirred, nobody would stop the commoners from following their idols.


Give peace another chance

The people of India and Pakistan need peace and harmony and this can be achieved only by staying in contact. It will remove apprehensions and hatred. India has made incredible efforts in the past to be affable with Pakistan, but all were in vain. Now Pakistan seems really interested in making peace. While keeping good relations with Pakistan, India should not ignore her security concerns. In spite of the many instances in the past, where our neighbour embittered us, we should give peace another chance. If these peace efforts continue, Pakistan and India would reflect as one. Contact will also help in softening the hardliners.


Contact is our only option

The diplomatically shrewd British left this country only after dividing it. Narrow political motives and fundamentalism have kept cultivating this bitterness. Serious efforts were made to normalise the relations during the tenure of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the present UPA government is also working on the same lines. People-to-people contact is the only way forward. Politicians, artists, teachers, lawyers, players and commoners are increasingly paying reciprocal visits. Patients from Pakistan are continuously visiting India for treatment. Now people from both sides are pressing hard for opening more routes and relaxing visa restrictions to come closer, to usher in peace and fraternity.

KARNAIL SINGH, Shahpur Kandi

Military govt should sense the change

The military governments in Pakistan have always thrived on India-bashing. Even democratic governments in that country have failed to see the merit of improved India-Pakistan relations. More often than not, they have behaved like their uniformed compatriots. However, things seem different now. The people-to-people contact holds a great potential for bringing peace and harmony in the region.

This ball of friendship, set rolling by the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and pushed further by the present UPA government, has gathered momentum. The recent cultural-exchange programmes like the India-Pakistan Punjab Games and the World Punjabi Conference at Patiala, and the warm welcome accorded to the West Punjab Chief Minster, Mr Parvaiz Elahi, in Punjab, the honourable reception given to a Pakistani delegation in Haryana, and the Pakistan visit of an Indian delegation headed by Chandrababu Naidu are a part of this process.

It is heartening to see the restoration of holy relics like Ganga Sagar and the household items of Sir Chhotu Ram by our Pakistani brethren. Such gestures can contribute greatly to the advent of that opportune time when the elected government in Pakistan would be impelled by the growing peace. That would be the appropriate time to solve amicably all outstanding problems, which exist between the two countries.


Solution lies in the hands of politicians

People always want peace and it is leaders who create unrest. In the past, people like Alexander, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Mohammed Gaznavi and Emperor Aurangzeb have played the masters of destruction to fulfil their lust for power. How can people-to-people contact help the peace process when there are unaccountable power-seekers everywhere? The real solution for bringing peace is in the hands of leaders, who will have to become selfless social workers and not power-seekers.


Keep politicians away

There is no reason why people-to-people contact cannot help bring peace, provided politicians are kept at bay and only the man from the street has a free hand. The people on both sides want to live in peace. Though divided geographically in 1947, they are one from the heart. Partition was a blunder and we the common people have it in us to show the world that we can reverse it.


Buy peace for next generation

The peace is not a desire, but a need. Partition was like a heartbreak, for which destiny can’t be solely blamed, for the fate of our country was largely in the hands of politicians. When God created man, He made them all similar. In the plains of Punjab on both sides, people have similar habits of food, culture, language and dress. We can only pray that the channels of communication that have opened up after a long time are able to mend our broken hearts. Let’s hope to buy peace for our next generations.

MANU and SONIA, Paonta Sahib

Contact and Kashmir

Contact cannot help end proxy war in Kashmir

How can it handle the monster of proxy war,

 Which has opened his mouth so wide.

Let us think more deeply about Kashmir,

It is still a good time to decide.

Green valleys, houses, and picnic spots,

These are places where ultras strike.

Kashmir, once called a heaven on Earth

Has turned into hell for while.

Daily we see woman weeping and crying.

Their relatives are seen consoling them.

We need to wipe their trailing tears,

Otherwise, of no value contacts be then.

India should wake up from her deep slumber,

Handle carefully the ongoing proxy war,

Which is why people-to-people contact between India and Pak,

Have not shown desirable results so far.


Pak media should support peace

Politicians created the problems between the two countries, and they have succeeded. The wound has now become so deep that it may take many years to heal. It will not heal with more buses or cricket. To heal, it needs a strong political will. Pakistan is wasting a lot of money and energy in spreading terrorism in India, while India is dumping her resources in trying to defend. As a result, both economies are now shattered. Pakistan should take drastic steps to curb terrorism originating from its territory. The fundamentalist camp is a great hurdle in the peace process. The cultures are the same, but ideologies differ, and the Pakistani media is not supporting the cause of peace. Some other countries would also not like to see India and Pakistan becoming friends, because then who will buy their weapons. India and Pakistan have to fight these powers first.


Interaction will boost our confidence

Interaction will boost our confidence to approach the people on the other side of the fence. It will go a long way in removing misconceptions raised by politicians and hardliners. The people on both sides speak the same language and will have fewer barriers in understanding each other. Students from both nations should have more frank exchange of ideas, as they’ll shape the future. More student exchange programmes will change the attitude of the new generation.

R. N. PAL,  Hisar (Haryana)

More trust will lead to better talks

In the plains of Punjab on both sides, people have similar language, dress, culinary habits and culture. Sadly, the people got separated by destiny. Events like the World Punjabi Conference, India-Pakistan Punjab Games, cultural programmes presented by artistes of both countries and many more exchanges are the right steps towards brotherhood and religious harmony. India has always advocated moving forward on confidence-building measures (CBMs) like enhancing people-to-people contact and liberalising trade. The people-to-people contact has to be in tandem with credible progress on Kashmir. Increased contact has opened all the more options; now the countries are moving from tactical to strategic. This will lead us to prosperity.


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