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Peace and the man on the street

As India and Pakistan debate and delkiberate on the nuances of shared territories and political relations during the SAARC summit, the person on the streets wonders how can both sides remain embroiled in issues like Kashmir when a galaxy of economic and cultural interests are waiting to merge.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2004 16:47 IST

So what do the recent peace moves mean for common men and women on both sides of the border?



"Siyasat bahaut ho chuki. Dono mulkon ko siyasat chhodkar ab kaam ki baat karni chahiye (We've had enough of politics. Both sides should now get together and start talking business)," says Abdul Aziz, a Rawalpindi shop owner who was in Delhi recently to meet his relatives.

"Pachaas salon se siyasat ne dono qaumon ke darmiyan ek faasla la diya gai, jise ab aapsi meljol se kam karna hai (50 years of politicking has created a hiatus between two countries. It has to be bridged through people-to-people contact)," he continues.

Relieved that the guns have fallen silent

Rameshwar Bansi, a Chandni Chowk shop owner with a brother in the Indian Army, is relieved with the announcement of ceasefire along the LoC. "Religious fanatics on both sides have played spoilsport," he says. "Kashmir is not as sensitive an issue for Hindus and Muslims in the two countries as it has been turned into by hardliners on both sides."

Many people many stories

Bansi's views find an echo with Farzana Bano, a widow living in Lahore with her four daughters. Farzana lost her husband, the sole breadwinner of her family, in the 1999 Kargil war. She has a few relatives in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, and knows what it is to be a victim of the political merry-go-round both nations are playing.

"Instead of showing one-upmanship in hacking each other's official websites, why don't IT guys in both countries join hands for mutual benefit? Why can't Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore transform themselves into Bangalore and Hyderabad?"



-Nikhil pal, University of Delhi under-graduate 

"

Kashmir dono mulkon ke liye aham ka mudda ban gaya hai, jo ghalat hai. Dono mulk kabhi gale milte hain to kabhi jang karte hain. Hum kab tak ek dusare par ungliyan uthate rahenge?

(Kashmir has become a clash of egos between the two nations, which is wrong. Sometimes the two warmly embrace each other, sometimes they go to war. For how long can we continue with the blame game)?" she laments.



Galaxy of common interests

Nikhil Pal, a Delhi University undergraduate, wonders how can both sides remain embroiled in issues like Kashmir when a galaxy of economic and cultural interests are waiting to merge.

"Instead of showing one-upmanship in hacking each other's official websites, why don't IT guys in both countries join hands for mutual benefit?" he asks.

Indian man Shahid Ali (R) waves prior to crossing into India as Pakistani Rangers official and Indian Border Security Force (BSF) official look on at the Wagah Border Post, 15 December 2003.

"Why can't Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore transform themselves into Bangalore and Hyderabad, India's IT hubs?



If Noor Fatima's parents can cross the border to get better medical treatment for their daughter, why can't we have regular two-way traffic in the fields of IT, medicine, media etc?"



The likes of Nikhil, Farzana, Rameshwar and Abdul Aziz can ill afford to be pessimists. They are not idealists, and their hopes are not unrealistic.

Indeed, their sentiments resonate with those of hundreds of thousands both sides of the border. But they can do little more than wait, watch, and pray.

First Published: Jan 07, 2004 16:47 IST