Sunday, February 28, 2016

Providing perspective

Kavita Suri,

uncaptioned image from article

As part of its outreach activities, the Union ministry of external affairs’ External Publicity and Public Diplomacy Division — also known as Indian Public Diplomacy — recently selected 10 Indian universities for a “distinguished lecture” series by prominent security analysts and think tanks of the country.

Out of those universities, the Central University of Jammu, opened in 2011, recently organised a lecture on “India’s relations with Pakistan in the context of regional economic integration in South and Southeast Asia”. Ambassador G Parthasarthy, former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan, who was the distinguished speaker, also presided over the event as the chief guest. He was accompanied by well-known strategic analyst Air Vice-Marshal Kapil Kak (retired) and Mallika Joseph, executive director, Australia India Institute.

It was for the first time that IPD has collaborated with any university in Jammu and Kashmir. The objective of the lecture was to acquaint students and youngsters about the various aspects of India-Pakistan relations and why the state is perceived strategically important by our neighbouring country. Parthasarthy started his speech by linking up the great history of Indian diplomacy and the MEA’s activities post-independence. He discussed in detail as to how the MEA and Indian Foreign Policy had transformed under the regime of various Prime Ministers including P V Narsimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

On the theme of India and Pakistan, Parthasarthy highlighted the post-Kargil era, when the demarcation of the LOC took place and how Musharraf and Vajpayee worked together for the betterment of bilateral relations between the two countries. By referring to different external factors like China, the USA, Afghanistan and terrorist attacks like the one in Mumbai in 2008 and Pathankot this year, he tried to explain the exact situation that is prevailing now. He ended his lecture by highlighting the fact that the only way festering issues between the two countries can be solved is by following the same steps taken by the government between 2004 and 2008.

Kak tried to give an analytical view of the situation. He recalled how India, for the very first time, has realised the importance of Afghanistan and its interests vested there. He further added that India has made an excellent move by providing Afghanistan military helicopters. He also added how the USA has been manipulating India in order to proxy China but on the other hand the recent USA-Pakistan deal to supply 8 F-16 fighter jets to the latter has shown Big Sam in unflattering light.

Ashok Aima, vice-chancellor, Central University of Jammu said such lectures were important for the students and intelligentsia in Jammu and Kashmir and added that effective and efficient dialogue between India and Pakistan is a must for long-lasting peace. A fruitful interactive session of questions and answers followed the speeches from the two dignitaries. Members from the audience were quite keen to know more and the guests seemed happy to answer their questions.

J Jeganaathan, head of department (in charge), department of national security studies, Central University of Jammu, presented a formal vote of thanks. He thanked all the participants from the audience and the organising team for a successful event. It was attended by members of civil society, representatives from the Police and armed forces, academicians, research scholars, students and the media.

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