Reflections / 09.02.2011

By Sakuntala Narasimhan “So how was your trip to Karachi? How was the conference?” my friends back home in India asked, when I returned to Bangalore after a week in Pakistan. Good? Bad? In trying to choose a short answer I find myself stumped. The second question is easier to answer – the three day conference was a fruitful, enriching, and enjoyable experience, as we interacted with artistes, activists from the arts, writers and academics from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Germany, UK and USA discussing the interfaces between politics, performing arts and gender.
Governance / 07.10.2008

The implication in an earlier post (Who Wants Peace in the Subcontinent?) was that the non-existence of political parties advocating peace was evidence that voters did not want peace with neighboring countries. Here we immediately fall into the trap of taking foreign concepts and applying them uncritically to alien situations. Are political parties in Pakistan really ‘political’ parties or are they something different? When one thinks about it, there are no major political parties in Pakistan today that advocate anything specific in terms of policy. One would be hard pressed to unambiguously associate a party with big or small government, free trade or autarky, protection or competition, privatization or public sector dominance. What one does find are parties associated with various personalities all of whom promise to do the same things better than anyone else. This observation calls for a closer look at the nature of democratic systems...

Politics / 30.09.2008

It is often asserted that the majority of people in India and Pakistan desire peace. Do you believe that? Even if they don’t, some suggest that if only people knew how much it is costing to keep up the state of conflict they would become advocates for peace. Well, here is the information as calculated in 2004 by the Strategic Foresight Group, Mumbai, in their report Cost of Conflict between India and Pakistan. The summary of the report claims that “the Siachen conflict alone will cost India Rs 7,200 crores and Pakistan Rs 1,800 crores in the next five years;” that “India and Pakistan have the potential to enjoy a trade of about $1 billion if the hostile environment continues and $13.25 billion if peace prevails on a cumulative basis for the next five years (2004-08) resulting in an opportunity loss of $12 billion;” and that “Kashmir...