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Pak part of India's past, India part of Pak future: Dawn media CEO Haroon

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 2:37 IST

For a moment, leave aside the seven decades of animosity and hostility and think - before 1947, what was the difference between the pieces of land that are now called India and Pakistan? Historically, culturally, even linguistically?

That's the message Hameed Haroon tried to deliver in Mumbai on Thursday, 24 December.

Haroon, CEO of the Dawn Group of Publications, Karachi, was speaking to the media about how to make recent breakthroughs in bilateral talks irreversible.

And like all the proponents of peace between the two countries, he maintained that if the governments weren't doing enough to improve the relationship, common people, especially youngsters, had to take the lead.

"The media has the capacity to push the agenda and bring about the desired change in the region. Media can guide public opinion. Involving the young generation will help in systematic propagation of the agenda," Haroon said.

The past and the future

The history taught in Pakistan tries very hard to cut its historic ties with India. But right from the Indus Valley Civilsation five thousand years ago, the region has been culturally homogenous.

As Haroon put it: "India is the mother of the Pakistani civilisation. One can find the links between the shrines in Sindh and temples in India. Since the entire civilisation developed on the banks of the river Indus, Goddess Kali has origins in Baluchistan."

Linking the common history with the dream of a shared future, where India and Pakistan can co-exist in peace, friendship and prosperity brought on by mutual trade, he added: "We are part of your past, you are part of our future and vice-versa. Today, technology can come in handy for cultural and trade exchanges. Let's create ways to interact with each other. Let's have proliferation of small industries and workshops to help each other."

How the port cities can help

In particular, Haroon said it was old allies and maritime hubs Karachi and Mumbai, rather than the policy centres of Islamabad and New Delhi, which could bring about the change.

"There is an authoritative model completely under control of Islamabad and New Delhi. These two cities [Karachi and Mumbai] can play a pivotal role in building the relationship. Civic society, NGOs and media all are part of the 21st century. They want to resurrect the relationship," Haroon said.

"India is the mother of the Pakistani civilisation. Goddess Kali has origins in Baluchistan"

"We need to reopen the Indian Ocean Rim so that the lost cultural and trade ties are re-established between India and Pakistan. There has been a stable maritime culture in the Indian Ocean between Karachi and Ahmedabad. There exists a massive matrix of relationship between the two cities."

He opined that the coastal communities living in the Indian Ocean Rim between western India and southern Pakistan had always been on the fringes when Islamabad and Delhi tried to 'improve' bilateral ties. "On the contrary, they should have been the core of the talks since they have many things in common. They are the real representatives of cultural and trade ties of this region. Closing the passage through the rim has not only altered the cultural ties, but also has affected the eating habits of the people in the region."

Referring to the routine arrest of fishermen in international waters, Haroon said: "The fishermen from the western coast of India and southern coast of Pakistan have always been at the receiving end when both countries tried to show their strength. Instead of dumping them in jails for decades, fishermen should have been involved in expediting the process of improvement of bilateral ties."

First published: 25 December 2015, 12:30 IST