Session covered Indo-Pakistani relations

Ada Simanduyeva

The violent relations between the people of India and Pakistan during the past 50 years have resulted in several wars, and most recently, 40 people were shot dead in Kashmir.
The struggle developed from ethnic differences and a debate over who should control a large patch of land called Kashmir located on India’s northern tip.
University students discussed the conflicts during an hour-long session led by S. P. Udayakumar, a research associate at the University’s Institute on Race and Poverty, at Amundson Hall on Tuesday night. The lecture on Indo-Pakistani relations focused on the two countries’ past and possible solutions for resolving the controversy.
“This is our effort to bring out awareness,” said Varsha Ramachandran about the night’s lecture — the third in a six-part series on South Asia held at the University.
Ramachandran, a University health and wellness senior, is a member of Minnesota’s division of Association for Indian Development, a nonprofit organization that conducts development work in India.
The countries’ animosity toward each other began after both gained independence from the British regime. Religious differences fueled the fire after separation from Great Britain — Indians follow Hinduism and Pakistanis practice Islam.
Wars erupted off and on throughout the next half-century over Kashmir, which borders both India and Pakistan.
The most recent violent incident occurred Monday when 40 Sikh villagers were killed in Kashmir, as U.S. President Bill Clinton continued his visit in India further south.
Udayakumar described the countries’ relations as fraternal. Each had a common past before their conflicts arose. Since the struggle began, Pakistanis have caused many troubles in India and vice versa, he said.
To show examples of each country’s current opinions of each other, Udayakumar quoted India’s and Pakistan’s governmental leaders.
He quoted Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi as saying that if there would be a change of heart in India, the same would happen in Pakistan, causing the inhumanity between the countries to stop.
One of Udayakumar’s concerns is the lives of the poor people living in both countries. He said people need to ask themselves what each country is doing to provide the poor with a better future.
He also said he feels that U.S. intervention would not provide an adequate solution. Americans have interest, but the Clinton visit looks like a public relations ploy, Udayakumar said.
Pakistani Nadir Budhwani, a human resources graduate student, held a different opinion about the issue of intervention.
“Someone needs to intervene, and I think it’s the right time,” he said.
Budhwani said both India and Pakistan have governments that do not have strong decision-making power, and Clinton’s visit could pressure them into making a decision about Kashmir. If a decision does not come soon, Budhwani says a nuclear war could become a reality.
Udayakumar, on the other hand, said he believes the issue of nuclear weapons should not be the main concern. He compared the issue to the recent situation in Russia, when former President Boris Yeltsin almost retaliated to what he thought was a nuclear bomb that turned out to be a Norwegian satellite.
“A lot of these issues are very complicated, and I guess if they were simple, they would be solved already,” said Sanat Mohanty, University chemical engineering graduate student and a member of AID. “In a sense, it’s like an egg and a chicken issue.”

Ada Simanduyeva covers international issues and welcomes comments at [email protected]