M.L. Sondhi

The Statesman, May 14, 1972

A new impetus has been given to bridge-building between New Delhi and Islamabad by the preliminary settlement between D.P. Dhar and his opposite number.  There is, however, much to be gained by conceiving of conflict-resolution as a process which is multi-dimensional.

The task of discovering and consolidating an Indo-Pakistan security system requires progress towards a political climate free of tension and anxiety.  The history of the Pugwash Conference shows that a great deal can be done to build an effective structure of integrated security objectives which can replace the framework of military confrontation by establishing communication through scientific and cultural relations. A study of the unorthodox methods used by the organizers of Pugwash reveals innovative techniques for incorporating social, political, economic and scientific information into the respective decision systems.  This process helps identify meaningful alternative courses of action.  The parochial outlook engendered by the disastrous pattern of historical conflict can be bypassed by a bilateral study group which serves as a catalyst for proposals which stand up to logical examination.  The emphasis on scientific and technological collaboration is in the Pugwash perspective really an effort to break the old pattern of rivalry by measuring national performance not through a purely military calculus but through a comprehensive assessment of emerging possibilities in international scientific, economic and social co-operation.  The Vienna declaration which was adopted by the 1958 Pugwash conference represented a major commitment in favour of social responsibility devolving on scientists and other intellectuals for conflict-management.

The Pugwash consultations brought together thinkers as different as Walt Rostow, Leo Szilard, Peter Kapitza and Alexander Topchiev and helped to enlarge the basis of cooperation between the United States and Soviet Union.  India and Pakistan are at the threshold of a new era in their mutual relations, but it is the Indian side which is in a position of advantage to play a crucial role in laying the groundwork for future transformation.  Political summitry in the absence of an organized effort to discover new opportunities for social forces to interact with the help of science, technology and culture will fail to release the tremendous potential for human welfare which the renewing of Indo-Pakistan ties can hopefully secure.

A small group of Indian media specialists, physical scientists and social scientists should therefore take the initiative to begin a dialogue with a similar group in Pakistan. The topics of the programme for the Indo-Pakistan Colloqium should be on the following lines: 1. Elimination of tensions, 2. New techniques for avoiding the use of force, Linking the two information systems, 4. Conservation of the Environment, 5. Probable futures for India and Pakistan.

The delay in the re-establishment of diplomatic relations should not prevent attention being given to scientific exchanges, business contacts and cultural relations as important means of re-appraisal of Indo-Pak affairs.  The proposed Indo-Pak Colloqium can play a significant role in providing an initial multidisciplinary input towards the broad-based development of political co-operation and the evolution of a stable relationship between the media spheres of the two countries.  The personal creativity of Pakistani intellectuals like Abdus Salam, the renowned physicist and mathematician, should find practical expression in contributing to the design and prescriptions of the colloquium.  The efforts to achieve a scientific consensus may not provide definitive solutions to the problems of political and military conflict but they will be the first steps leading to a modification of the intellectual and human environment of the two countries and thus provide an important psychological input into foreign policy making.  This is all the more necessary in view of the personalized decision-making systems which today operate in New Delhi and Islamabad.
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