Pakistan Senator Visits Mason to Discuss India-Pakistan Peace Process

Posted: February 2, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jim Greif

Pakistan Senator Mushahid Hussain, chair of the Pakistan Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited the Arlington Campus last week, giving an optimistic speech that highlighted changes in the relationship between India and Pakistan that could make peace possible.

Hussain stated that Pakistan is wholly committed to the peace process, and he said both countries’ nuclear developments and the separate and strong relationships with the United States were key factors in the push toward peace.

Hussain, who earned a master’s degree from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and worked as an intern in the U.S. Congress in the summer of 1974, addressed the India-Pakistan peace process with Mason students, members of the local South Asian community and the press. His appearance was sponsored by the South and East Asia Working Group, a student organization affiliated with Mason’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

“Not that long ago, the main threat [to Pakistan] was India. Now that has shifted to an internal treat of terrorism and extremism,” Hussain said.

Although India and Pakistan have a long history of tense relations, Hussain said the current governments are now more comfortable with dealing with each other, and the citizens of the two countries enjoy each other’s music and culture. He also stated that the citizens of Pakistan were welcoming to Indians, citing an instance where Pakistanis cheered an Indian cricket victory in 1992.

The largest source of contention between the two countries is a 60-year land conflict over the region of Kashmir. While Hussain is optimistic that the issue will be resolved, he criticized the “crusty old men in the Indian intelligence and security establishment” for blocking progress in negotiations over Kashmir and said mindsets must change before this issue can be resolved.

“[Pakistan is] trying to have a more proactive approach and view Kashmir as a human issue first,” Hussain said, while expressing sympathy for the citizens who inhabit the region.

He believes the two countries are more willing to seek peaceful means of conflict resolution, partially due to what he sees as high-profile military failures during recent and ongoing conflicts in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Force is not the solution to the problem. India can’t hold Kashmir by force. And we can’t take Kashmir by force,” Hussain said.

He sees the need for the United States to take a “bold” diplomatic approach in the peace process and cited former President Richard Nixon’s policy toward China as an example of the type of leadership he would like to see.

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