Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reaching across is not easy

I was reading the blog of a woman who has a complicated ethnic and national identity. Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Libya, Punjabi, Bengali all feature in the makeup of who she is and in her experiences. She lives in India now. She writes that she called her family in Pakistan and Bangladesh after the Mumbai tragedy and found the conversation very difficult.

All this was brought into sharp focus for me a couple of days ago. I was speaking on the phone, with a very good friend in Karachi and we talked about the tragedy that befell the city that we both grew up in and love so much. At some point I asked if she had been in touch with her cousin in Mumbai who also happens to be a friend of mine. This woman had been caught up in the Taj Hotel attacks in some way but was thankfully unharmed.

There was dead silence for a few seconds until my friend was able to gather her thoughts and speak coherantly. She then told me of the strained conversation she had with her cousin in Mumbai. There was uncertainity on both sides and stilted conversation laced with the fear of approbation and accusations. There were so many things left unsaid and the conversation meant to be healing ended very quickly.

What a pity, but this mistrust will have to be endured until lasting solutions can be found.

What are the solutions? Will the issue of Kashmir have be the first to be resolved for any detente? Is this business of trade and rail connections and more streamlined visas just hogwash? Is it even possible to put aside the question of Kashmir and pretend it dosent exist and carry on trying to form other connections?

I do not know the solution to Kashmir and I cannot think of any that will please all parties.

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