Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Pakistani rock band in Kashmir to heal wounds

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j11.jpgPakistan’s hottest rock band Junoon plays in Srinagar, Kashmir on Sunday, in what must rate as the biggest music show in decades in one of the world’s most militarised regions.

Junoon, or madness in Arabic,  will play in a heavily fortified auditorium on the banks of the Dal lake, but its Sufi music and soaring guitar riffs should resonate far beyond, given that this is where Sufism, a form of Islamic mysticism, struck roots in the subcontinent.

The idea of a Pakistani band playing in the centre of Kashmir, which has been at the heart of 60 years of unremitting hostility between the neighbours, is itself remarkable, a testament to the change that is quietly taking place.

It would have been unimaginable a few years ago, Ïndia’s NDTV quotes a local college professor as saying.

Should the media be more positive about Pakistan?

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File photo of Nanga ParbatIn the comments on our blog earlier this month Pakistan: Breaking Down the Stereotypes one thing stands out – that people in Pakistan are tired of it being portrayed as a failed state and blame the western media for focusing too narrowly on suicide bombings rather than the achievements and attractions of the country.

You can read all the comments here and I am reproducing some below:

“Pakistan has always been portrayed in the media as a failed or dangerous country. In reality, this is totally absurd and false. The recent elections in Pakistan proves my point. They are progressive, they want peace and most of all they mean business.” - Posted by arif

Pakistan, India and America

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India and Pakistan turn into good friends, and America is kept at arms’ length. Is that possible?

Diplomacy like politics is the art of the possible, and if you listen to the new voices emerging from Pakistan, there is change blowing in the wind as it makes the transition to civilian rule after nearly nine years of military leadership.

The Pakistan conundrum

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Helicopters fly past portrait of Pakistan’s founder, Mohammad Ali JinnahWhen it comes to Pakistan, sometimes you want to be told what is going on; sometimes you want to stop and think for yourself.  But rarely is there a middle ground. Here are three very different pieces for those who are interested in this conundrum.

In an op-ed in Dawn Cyril Almeida tackles the perennial question of how far Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) controls the Islamist militants who helped end the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, fought against Indian rule in Kashmir in the 1990s and this century turned first against the United States in 9/11 and then against Pakistan itself in a wave of suicide bombings.

Pakistan, India and “the hidden hand”

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2007 photo of Lal Krishna Advani/B MathurFormer Indian deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani has just released his autobiography and he takes issue with President Pervez Musharraf for blaming him for being “the hidden hand” behind the failure of a 2001 summit between the two countries that ultimately led to a dangerous military stand-off before they talked peace again.

Though it’s seven years past, both Advani’s, and before him, Musharraf’s version of that summit with Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, still makes for interesting reading. It offers a glimpse into the minds of two powerful men — one a Hindu nationalist leader and the other a military general — as they struggled to set aside the baggage of history and half a century of conflict and came close to making history themselves before courage deserted them. They eventually made their peace, partly brought on by circumstance including a dramatically different world after September 11, but also because the mis-steps of Agra were never far from the mind.

Guest contribution: Zardari’s approach to Kashmir

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Earlier this month, Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, said relations between India and Pakistan should not be held hostage to Kashmir.  The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone.

The writer is Vice Chancellor of the Islamic University of Science & Technology, Kashmir. The views expressed in this article, however, are those of a private citizen.

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