India, Pak should move towards open borders: Ishtiaq Ahmed at Panjab University - Hindustan Times
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India, Pak should move towards open borders: Ishtiaq Ahmed at Panjab University

By, Chandigarh
Apr 13, 2024 08:40 AM IST

Ishtiaq Ahmed who was born in Lahore was in Panjab University to deliver a lecture on “Partition of India and the emergence of Pakistan as a garrison state”

Discussing measures to promote peace in the region, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Professor Emeritus, University of Stockholm, Sweden, suggested formalising the the line of control between India and Pakistan and adopting an open borders policy, akin to what is seen in the European Union, so both countries can move forward.

Ishtiaq Ahmed, Professor Emeritus, University of Stockholm, delivered a lecture at Panjab University. (HT Photo)
Ishtiaq Ahmed, Professor Emeritus, University of Stockholm, delivered a lecture at Panjab University. (HT Photo)

Ahmed who was born in Lahore was in Panjab University to deliver a lecture on “Partition of India and the emergence of Pakistan as a garrison state”. While tracing the aftermath of the partition, he spoke about how Pakistan has now become a “rentee” state, adding, “Earlier, Pakistan had given its forces on rent to the US against the Soviet Union. Then to Saudi Arabia for its war with Iran. Now Pakistan is giving its forces to China,”

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While speaking about what’s going on between India and China, he spoke about how both civilisations claim to be over 5,000 years old yet cannot resolve the territorial dispute. He added that there was no end to this arms race and the international boundary needs to be fixed after which China will also not find much use for Pakistan.

“Pakistan should start trade with India. Once Pakistan’s disputes with all its neighbours are resolved, Pakistan can work towards cooperation and building the nation. Trade with India will give relief to Pakistan as our industry doesn’t work and our agriculture is stagnant,” he added.

He also spoke against jingoism on both sides of the border, before reiterating the benefits of the European model, “Once an international border is finalised, an open border system as used in the European Union can be instituted. People from one part of Punjab shouldn’t be kept from visiting the other part.”

He batted for making Punjabi compulsory in schools, saying he was encouraged by the latest statement of the chief minister of Pakistan’s Punjab. “Whether this is actually done remains to be seen, and it can be seen as a way to offer something to people after the party won a fixed election. But the narrative has been set which must be appreciated.”

He described how Muhammad Ali Jinnah had been propped by the British as a counter to the Congress and how it was in fact the British who decided when to leave India and how they did it on their terms, in a way that suited them best

He spoke about how the Muslim League had supported the British Commonwealth during Second World War, offering to recruit more soldiers for their effort. However, he said that the Hindu Mahasabha had also offered to do the same. The Congress he continued had committed a blunder by launching the Quit India Movement in 1942 which was also done after some reluctance. Due to this, all Congress leaders were sent to jail till 1945, and Jinnah was meanwhile prepped as a leader even though he earlier wasn’t that popular even in the muslim dominated areas like the North West Frontier.

After independence he described how Pakistan as the garrisoned state emerged after the Americans had started sending money to Pakistan after India announced it would remain non aligned to both sides of the powers of the second world war.

“Pakistan came into being as the strangest state. With no industrial base and no political leadership comparable to Congress. It was mostly Muslim. Landlords. Unless partition took place their land ownership was in jeopardy,” he described how the Pakistan army was able to then take control.

“The first free and fair election in Pakistan eventually led to the separation of East and West Pakistan,” he added but he said this was an exception. It needs a major superpower to break down a state in the current times and would lead to problems like economic migration which would upset the world order.

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