One and a half billion people just want peace

The News, January 01, 2010

The two nations have repeatedly gone to war in the past. Their governments continue sabre rattling and spewing bellicose rhetoric. But identical nationwide opinion surveys conducted by the Jang Group and the Times of India Group in India and Pakistan show that a majority of the billion and a half people of the sub-continent want to live as peaceful and friendly neighbours and share the same humane goals like any other civilised polity; economic prosperity for all, education for the youth, health for the needy, absence of violence and elimination of existential threats.

In Pakistan, 72 per cent of the respondents desired “peaceful and friendly relations with India” whereas 60 per cent Indians were hopeful of such an eventuality. This relative lesser percentage may be owing to the fact that presently 88 per cent of Indians consider Pakistan as a high/moderate threat to India’s well being. In contrast, 72 per cent Pakistanis perceive India as a high/moderate threat. The 88 per cent threat perception notwithstanding, it is heartening to note, however, that over 59 per cent of Indians think that a peaceful relationship would be established with Pakistan within their lifetime, an optimism shared by 64 percent Pakistanis.

While vested interests on both sides may have led the people to believe that every Pakistani wakes up paranoid with India and that every Indian goes to bed fretting over the next deadly Pakistani move, statistics show otherwise. Half the people polled in India thought about Pakistan “sometimes”, while only 16 per cent thought about us in a more focused manner. As for Pakistanis, 32 per cent appeared to be seriously concerned over the state of our bilateral relations. Hardly the figures for two peoples supposedly obsessed with each other’s ultimate annihilation, would not you agree?

The adverse ramifications of less than friendly relations too have not been lost on either side. Over half the Indian nation feels that the tense situation has hampered both social and economic development within India itself. This feeling is even greater in Pakistan where 71 per cent people blame lack of social development on this cold war.

But having said that, both the people appear to be greater believers in the art-of-possible than their ruling dispensations. The governments stated positions notwithstanding, the priorities of both nations appear to be clear and positive. Almost three-fourths of the people interviewed on both sides of the border favoured increased business links and were convinced that such a commercial build-up could be one of the best defences against an army build-up between the two erstwhile jittery neighbours. In a significant revelation, 75 per cent of Indians want a settlement of the Kashmir issue which was recognised as a major impediment to normalisation of relations. On this side, the number was understandably higher at 84 per cent. What did not come as any surprise, however, was that cricket reigned supreme. In a region where cricket is god, 93 per cent of Indians viewed it as an important means to be utilised in the peace building process. And Pakistanis too seem to agree to this assessment.

Surveys indicate that the cohabitants of the subcontinent no longer favour the long held belief that at times peace stands on the other side of the war, for many extraordinary routes to destination peace were offered by the ordinary Indians and Pakistanis. Over half the people on both sides of the divide wanted greater people-to-people interaction with almost three-fourths believing that this interaction will dispel ‘myths’ and could lay a solid foundation for a lasting peace. In a sharp contrast, however, relations between the two governments were deemed as outright hostile by the people. Over half the people believed that greater cultural exchanges, with movies bearing the greatest load of expectations, could smooth a lot of ruffled feathers and ease down tensions. There were strong proponents on both sides, again in a majority, arguing for increased tourism including medical-tourism while a good 73 per cent rightly viewed close cooperation in education and student exchanges as another key peace building element.

That said, however, the survey results also betray the adverse impact of long held beliefs and biases, both real and imaginary, which continue to retard various peace building initiatives. While the two nations undisputedly crave peace, mutual suspicions and concerns remain a grim reality posing difficult but negotiable roadblocks on this road to peace. It is worrying indeed that when asked what at once came to their mind when the word Pakistan was mentioned, 78 per cent responded “terror”. Over half of these people attributed this perception to the recent incidents like the Mumbai attack. Over 40 per cent of Indians also feel Pakistan is responsible for promoting extremist violence. But at the same time, 41 per cent blame it on a combination of Pakistan and home-grown factors like Maoists etc. Pakistani nation too has its own fair share of fears. Almost three-thirds are convinced of Indian involvement in extremist violence within Pakistan with 31 per cent blaming it on a US-India nexus. In a sharp departure from the Indian perspective, however, when Pakistanis were asked about the first thing that came to their minds at the mention of word India, 64 per cent responded “Kashmir”. All is not lost indeed, yet suspicion runs nearly as strongly as the desire to make peace.

The surveys show that a serious, sincere and concerted effort is required to attain a peaceful equation between the two countries and it was encouraging to see that when asked to opine on possible milestones in this peace making process, invariably both nations favoured positive options like greater cooperation, rage linkups, improving internal defences and mechanisms, people-to-people contact and neither side showed any inclination towards seeking conflict-oriented resolutions. The tactics may vary somewhat but it is clear that strategically South Asia has voted in favour of making peace.

29 Comments

Filed under Citizens, India, Kashmir, Pakistan, poverty, south asia, Terrorism

29 responses to “One and a half billion people just want peace

  1. vajra

    Unexpected but welcome.

    What is to be made of the little quirks scattered through this summary? Our interpretation must depend on the accuracy of the survey, and its scope.

    For instance, we are informed with great confidence and authority that the views of civilised and educated Pakistanis that we have encountered on PTH do not represent the views of the bulk of the Pakistani citizenry.

    We were informed with great kindness and condescension that the microscopic minority we were speaking to here were skewed in their values and their attitudes. This, we were given to understand, was due to the strange western and alien education that the PTH Pakistani had received. A mirror image of this is their complete and disastrous failure to adhere to the basic religious tenets which were mandatory for the country and should have been woven into the fabric of all decision-making, an unfortunate unfinished task that all Pakistani citizens should strive to complete at an early date.

    Is that true? It seems from the summary of the survey findings that the views said to represent Pakistan are in fact closer to those found on PTH, further from the critics of PTH.

    More such quirks abound.

    What of the degree of representation of Indian views that the survey reflects? Is it accurate, in its turn? Our encounters on PTH seem to show that Indian opinion comes in three flavours: an activist, positive minded but not necessarily ‘concessional’ one; a very, very large number of passive people in broad agreement with this; and a considerable minority element that represents to the first of these groups the dregs of the earth, while to themselves, they are the clear-sided prophets of disillusionment who are without honour among these insincere and glib discussions, and the shallow intellects that indulge each others’ egos here.

    A full analysis of this survey would take more space than the survey summary report itself.

    It may be more appropriate to concede defeat to Bloody Civilian (may he choke on his cornflakes, and may he contact a live wire as he rolls on the ground laughing at my discomfiture), and beat a dignified retreat, to try and retrieve ground on some future occasion.

    Where’s the popcorn?

  2. QWE

    PLEASE WRITE ONE AND A HALF BILLION MINUS ONE.I want war between india and china.I want my aksai chin back .

  3. Sameet

    @QWE,

    And why do you think you will get Aksai Chin back if India fights a war with China?

  4. neel123

    Interestingly enough, such frequent appeal for peace and dialogue from pakistan was missing for over two decades, when there was no 9/11 and India was at the receiving end of terror since 1989 … !

    Now it looks like nothing but a ploy for tactical relief, when Pakistan has started receiving its due …. !

    Appeal for peace must come from the Pakistani Army and the ISI ….because nothing else matters in Pakistan ….. !

  5. vajra

    The appropriate cue to resume the analysis!

    The figures are skewed, and our friend the blinkered bigot illustrates the skew in part.

    In Pakistan, 28% – that’s more than one person in every four – don’t want peaceful and friendly relations with India.

    Isn’t that a terrible figure? Sure, it is, until you come to the Neel123s of the world, the Indian figures corresponding to this.

    It’s a shocker.

    40% – 2 in every 5 – do NOT want peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan

    Please think about this.

    India has a very, very large number of people who think peace is never going to work. The very next finding explains why:
    presently 88 per cent of Indians consider Pakistan as a high/moderate threat to India’s well being. In contrast, 72 per cent Pakistanis perceive India as a high/moderate threat.

    It’s obvious, isn’t it? If 9 out of 10 think the neighbour is a big enough threat, it isn’t a big stretch to 4 out of that number losing heart, and losinthinking,”What the heck is the point? There is nothing we can do to bring in peace; why on earth are we trying?”

    And for exactly that reason, fewer Indians than Pakistanis believe that theyll see peace break out in their own lifetime.

    It sounds pretty neat on paper.

  6. Bloody Civilian

    Vajra

    it was nearly one and a half billion minus one… i almost did choke on my corn flakes😉

    interesting analysis. but to complete it… or at least to complete the next step: so 2 out of 5 indians don’t hope for peace for they see no hope; and 1 in every 4 pakistanis does not agree with the rest because… ??

  7. vajra

    @Bloody Civilian

    It’s actually far more hopeful than it might sound. Wait for the further bits.

  8. Milind Kher

    Let us hope that Aman ki Asha becomes a successful initiative, and the number of skeptics on either side drastically goes down.

    Meanwhile, on the Indian side, there is a twist in the tale. Many Muslim Indians too, have started getting hostile to Pakistan. This is because whenever Pakistan takes an aggressive stance, the right wing in India creates problems for Muslim Indians.

  9. ved

    As I encounter the stats in this topic, I did not wonder at all for their skewed opinion against Pakistan. In India if you do not have access to Internet, you depend on the Goverement, Electronic and Print Media for latest news and current affairs. And I’m dead sure they are not unbiased.

    It is cruel true, in general maximum people understood current situations from the point of view of above said media. So While Qaid-e-Azam is highly regarded in Pakistan, in India He is perceived as a villain, who divided India. India fought 4 wars with Pakistan, and every times Pakistan is blamed for these wars. So if the stats in the topic of our discussions, shows some positive about Pakistan, it is truly applaudable for changing mind set of people albit unrecognisable.

    In my opinion if we want to build a good relations with Pakistan then we must spread true informations, people must be able to think objectively, everybody will not have access to PTH on Internet so role of Print, Electronic and Govt media of the both side of the border is the most important on building good, durable and sustainable relations. Of course History should be changed for better in schools and colleges, and hatred portions should be ommited so do not poison the mind set of young children.

  10. verming

    “So While Qaid-e-Azam is highly regarded in Pakistan, in India He is perceived as a villain”

    Not a villain but an opportunist.

  11. Milind Kher

    If each of us can convince a core group who can make a difference, and each of them convince their own core groups that something positive can be done, we can make things better.

    In fact, I am a firm believer in the power of one, and am convinced that I have the power to make these nations come together. Already, devout Hindus with whom I interact are beginning to say that they feel positively about Mr Jinnah! Pakistan Paindabad!

  12. karun1

    Hit when the enemy is the weakest!

    karunsutra verse 48 part 1

  13. Mustafa Shaban

    I beleive we can have peace only if the Pakistani and Indian people tackle the elites in thier own countries. This is important becuase it is the domination of the elite class in both countries that makes peace impossible.

    @Milind: I really hope Aman ki Aasha does well. But let me point out to you a disturbin trend. Whenever such initiatives were launched in the past by India, at the same time India became a lot more agressive in its posture and statements. Same thing is happening today, Gen Kapoor and the politicians give agressive statements on one hand and then Aman Ki Aasha on the other. Unfortunately this is the trend.

  14. Majumdar

    Milind babu,

    Already, devout Hindus with whom I interact are beginning to say that they feel positively about Mr Jinnah!

    Even Hindoos who are not particularly devout (like myself) feel the same way about MAJ (pbuh).

    Regards

  15. Milind Kher

    @Majumdar Saheb,

    MAJ rocks. You must try to tell as many Indians as you can about him.

  16. ved

    I see the YLH effect on many socalled Hindu friends. But I must say you should not be in owe struck of the aura of MAJ so much so you think only from the point of view of YLH.

    I love to have friendship with Pakistanis, as I see a lot of similarity with them , Majority of Indian speak same language as majority of Pakistnais, follow same culture, have same taste. In fact they are just like our own brothers. Are these not sufficient reasons to have permanet friendship?

    So why We are obliged to harp a praise of MAJ to have some kind words written about us. Also I would be more happy if someone comes ahead and erases the misconception of our Father of nation Mahatma Gandhi from the mind of our Pakistani brothers as YLH did for Qaid-e-Azam.

  17. Karaya

    Majumdar,

    Even Hindoos who are not particularly devout (like myself) feel the same way about MAJ (pbuh).

    If only people like you would have been at the helm of affairs in the Congress when the CMP discussions were on, then the Congress could not have committed the grave error it did.

    But, then again, if wishes were horses…

  18. Milind Kher

    As far as Gandhiji is concerned, whereas he had excellent leadership qualities, as well as powers of persuasion, what tied him down was that he was not able to rise above favoritism.

    Netaji Bose as well as Mr Jinnah could have done a lot more if Gandhiji had allowed them to.

  19. vajra

    Or his vision of the state as a successful implementation of Hindu statecraft.

    A dangerous vision, in the wrong eyes.

  20. Milind Kher

    A very dangerous vision in today’s context, for sure. We have to be perpetually on our guard against the right wing.

  21. Majumdar

    Karaya mian,

    If only people like you would have been at the helm of affairs in the Congress when the CMP discussions were on, then the Congress could not have committed the grave error it did.

    On the contrary, sir. If I had been the head of the INC I wud have done just the same as INC did. Perhaps be a more upfront about partitioning Punjab and Bengal.

    The Congress committed no error in 1946-47 barring perhaps the annexation of Kashmir.

    Milind babu,

    You must try to tell as many Indians as you can about him.

    Most Indians dont care about history, MKG or MAJ. The ones who do care are usually the more dangerous lot.

    Ved,

    erases the misconception of our Father of nation Mahatma Gandhi from the mind of our Pakistani brothers

    If these misconceptions are removed the Pakistanis will think even more poorly of MKG.

    Regards

  22. Gorki

    @ Majumdar:
    “If I had been the head of the INC I wud have done just the same as INC did. Perhaps be a more upfront about partitioning Punjab and Bengal”

    The difference is that none of the parties in 1947 (neither MAJ nor the INC) felt that what eventually emerged was the desired thing.

    Dada, you are an honorable man and while your views that the Indian Hindus and Muslims belonged in two separate nation states in the first place, are contrary to mine, I do not doubt your personal commitment to the secular laws, basic human rights and individual freedoms.
    Therefore, though I personally disagree with you, I understand your logic.

    My problem is that at the risk of sounding like a smug elitist, I feel that sophisticated logic such as yours is beyond the grasp of the average simpletons like G Vishvas, TM or even a Varun Gandhi, who unfortunately make up a majority in our land.
    It is but natural then that for such crude elements in our society, the implied hard line positions, (especially if repeated in so few words), repeated by enough people and repeated often enough, are a then taken as a license for unrestrained demagoguery.
    In due time, such unchecked arguments run the risk of taking on a trajectory that end up miles away from the intended destination. You don’t have to go far; the difference between the vision of your hero MAJ, and the end result that is there today is there for all to see.

    Thus even if one were to wistfully desire that India was a home of a milky pure, ethnically, religiously and culturally homogenous Indic civilization like that of the Han Chinese, the fact is that long before 1947 India had already become a mosaic of many distinct peoples and cultures; a kind of a ‘Kheer’ made up of milk, sugar and rice and cooked over the centuries under the Indian Sun.
    It could not have been undone then and it can’t be undone now.
    While one can sympathize with MAJ’s fears regarding the political oblivion of Muslims, one cannot accept that what emerged from those fears was an ideal solution.

    The sooner that the right wingers (or maybe the right thinkers😉 ) such as yourself accept this fact the sooner we will get on with the task of building a modern and equitable society in our common South Asian homeland. Otherwise the fears of another Godhara every few years will continue to stalk our land.

    Regards.

  23. karun1

    Indias fears should not be secularism rather development

  24. Majumdar

    Gorki sb,

    right wingers such as yourself accept this fact the sooner we will get on with the task of building a modern and equitable society in our common South Asian homeland.

    I can’t speak for all right wingers, I can only speak for myself. I have no issues with diversity, it is just my observation that if we have a 70:30 mix of Hindoos and Muslims in a single nation, it will only be a recipe for trouble.

    Better solution is what exists as of now. Muslim dominated Pak and BD, Hindoo dominated India. Each implementing nationhood which encompass certain basic principles such as equality among citizens, rule of law, democracy, pro-market economics, secularism and rights of individuals ( to the extent that the underlying society wud allow such principles to be implemented). Then form a ASEAN type common market.

    Regards

  25. rex minor

    If the Indian and Pakistan citizens stop thinking loudly and respect each other’s cultures, the normality could come within a short time. It is not the religion which divides them but the different languages and the respective cultures within their Societies which influence their behaviours. This is no different in other countries including Britain, Belgium and Switzerland etc. The media has a special role to preserve the civility among peoples. The question is whether they are upto the task in Pakistan and India?

    Like we say here,
    Et es, wie et es ( It is what it is)
    Et kütt, wie et kütt(It happens as it happens)
    Nix bliev, wie et is.(Nothing remains as it is)

    We hope that the next chapters would be peaceful.

  26. Karaya

    Majumdar,

    If I had been the head of the INC I wud have done just the same as INC did.

    Oh.

    Well, never mind. I\’m sure, if you had your way, you would have the Congress accept that great charter of the Qaids\’s–the 14 points.

  27. ved

    @Majumdar
    If these misconceptions are removed the Pakistanis will think even more poorly of MKG

    I must say…..you do’nt have any respect to our Father of Nation. But you know, MKG is not here to couter your allegation…. what you people think or say against him.

    But I’m of firm beleiver of being staunch religious and same time seculirist in outlook and accomodating to caste, creed and religions. Our religion, if it had very narrow outlook , it would’nt have allowed any one to settle here and do the business of prosletysing. But it had happened. Gandhi ji was of that league. He was believer in God, a saintly figure, his Ramrajya concept was based on sambhav, samdarshi. You should read Ramayna to know what was Ramrajya? that was the ideal of a good state in the eye of MKG.

    It is not that if he think of Ramrajya that he become bigot. It is sad.. very people who matter those time could not understand him, what to say today’s people. thank you

  28. Majumdar

    I must say…..you do’nt have any respect to our Father of Nation.

    None whatsoever. And of course Gandhi was not the Father of our Nation, either.

    You should read Ramayna to know what was Ramrajya? that was the ideal of a good state in the eye of MKG.

    Yeah. And our Af-Pak friends wud advise us to read the Koran and the example of the Khilafat e Rashida and then ask us to achieve Hukumat-e-Ilahi.

    You are new to this place and I have a few interesting tit bits to share with you.

    Ram Rajya= Rule of God= Hukumat-e-Ilahi
    Satyagraha= Struggle for Truth= Jihad

    Just two different lingos- Sanskrit and Arabi.

    Regards

  29. ved

    I’m not against the anything from any religion which is near to its true thinking of Ramrajya (“sab nar karahi paraspar priti, chalahi swadharm nirati shruti niti” means every human beings loves to eachother and follows his/her religion with its true meanings) either it is Khilafat-e-Rashida or Huqumat-e-elahi.

    But I must say you have wore the spectacles of hate, so you can not listen to anyone. But it is my advise, either in PTH or anywhere else it is nice to be open minded and accomodating and not use any such language which heart to someone’s feelings. PTH should not be used as plateform to heart feelings of others.

    And on you thought that I’m new to this plateform, yes of course I’m new, but not knew to world of politics. I thought it was a better plateform to place your thoughts not your hate. But you people think only in single direction, and I should not force you to change your minde sets.

    thank you.