UH reflects on viable
By Ray Hafner
The Daily Cougar
After reaching a near breaking point, tensions
along the India-Pakistan border are beginning to ease, slightly dimming
the possibility of a
nuclear war. Students and faculty on both
sides of the conflict, are hopeful that through sincere dialogue and a
commitment to honor
agreements the crisis can be defused and
a lasting peace reached.
"Both sides have been pushed to their limits,"
said Uma Gupta, dean of the College of Technology, representing the Indian
community. "I know
India feels that way."
Pakistan feels the same way according to
Kamran Riaz, member of the Pakistani community. "This is a no win situation,"
said Riaz, associate
dean of students. Riaz hopes third party
mediation will help alleviate this current conflict and set the path for
what he hopes will be a "sincere"
dialogue between the two nations.
Several countries, including the United
States, Russia and China have offered to mediate discussions between them.
The prospect of a
full-scale nuclear war holds global implications.
UH, one of the most diverse American universities,
had 664 students of Indian and 239 of Pakistani descent in fall of 2001.
According to Beth
Tucker, a counselor with International
Student and Scholar Services, those statistics represent a blend of immigrant
While relationships overseas have soured,
both Gupta and Riaz point to the peaceful coexistence of Indians and Pakistanis
here in America as
a sign of hope for the conflict. Both
are American citizens who have lived here for 18 and 22 years, respectively.
"The beauty of it is many Indians have
Pakistani friends," Gupta said. Their experiences in America, she said,
show they must "be model
citizens, even though we disagree."
"The mistrust that is there does not exist
here," Riaz said.
Gupta pointed to two main issues that were
sparking the conflict. First, she said, the issue of Kashmir has spurred
the conflict for the past five
and half decades. More recently is the
firm stance against terrorism.
"Terrorism destroys and that's all there
is to it," she said.
"If you have to name one country that has
stepped up with America (in its war on terrorism), it has to be Pakistan,"
countered Riaz. He added it
is not easy to close a border, pointing
to the United State's troubles in policing its Mexican border. He also
said that there was no concrete
evidence that the terrorists involved
were coming from Pakistan.
According to most sources, the infiltration
of Kashmir by Islamic militants, some of whom have come from Afghanistan,
is fueling a wave of
terror attacks aimed at Indians.
Riaz continued to say that the terrorism
was not happening only in India, but pointed out bombings in Karachi and
Islamabad. "You can't even stop it in
your own country," he said, noting it would be even harder to stop outside
Many analysts paint this as a religious
struggle, but according to Riaz, "Religion has no bearing." Gupta agrees,
noting the "Hindu religion
teaches all religions leads to one God."
Both say the main issue, Kashmir, is a land dispute.
To solve the conflict, Gupta says they
must first get the idea of using nuclear weapons out of their heads. She
added that a long-term solution
would require first a peaceful coexistence,
brought about by an end to terrorism. Key to maintaining that would be
a commitment to honor
Riaz said something must be done to end
the mistrust between the two leaders, General Pervez Musharraf and Prime
Minister Atal Vajpayee.
Riaz hopes a democratic solution might
be found. Both Pakistan and India are saying what should happen, but he
noted "the people who are
being directly affected are not involved."
Were war to come, nuclear or conventional,
Gupta said the primary concerns would be both for family members living
abroad and also the
economic effects that would no doubt cripple
the two, already poor, nations.
"The majority of people are just hoping
it won't lead to any kind of nuclear warfare or any kind of warfare," she
said. Any type, she added, would
cause grief, sorrow and