Due to the tense relations between India and Pakistan, peace is still relatively elusive in South Asia. It is not a mean feat to put a complete end to more than six decades of territorial disputes, arms race, cross-border terrorism and proxy wars but fortunately it is not entirely impossible either.
A Pakistani media delegation recently visited Mumbai and asked for an end to the ‘language of hate’ used by the media on both sides of the border. If the media in Pakistan and India indeed follows through with this policy, it would go a long way in changing perceptions amongst the people about each other’s countries. At a time when both the governments are trying to liberalise the visa regimes and are opening trade, it is good to see that the media is also playing its part in facilitating the peace process. Using the right discourse, recontextualising the issues and creating awareness through campaigns, joint productions and people-to-people contact, is making it possible to spread the message of peace and tolerance. While the media devises a strategy to stop using the language of hate, our curriculum needs to change as well. The kind of abhorrent language used to describe India and its people in our textbooks must be reformed. Distortion of historical facts is something we can do without. Our children should be taught the truth.
Pakistan’s obsession with India is tearing apart the basic fabric of the former’s society, leading to a self-destructive phase. The enmity between the two neighbours still battling demons from their past, is hurting the people of both nations. Both countries are wasting resources in their arms race at the cost of their impoverished millions. It would not be wrong to say that with the exception of the right wing media and some hawkish elements, most people in the region would like to see a normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan. The people of both countries ought to be allowed to live in peace.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2012.
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