Archive for June 13th, 2013

Countdown Interviews – Asma Jahangir: 6

June 13, 2013 in Countdown Interviews | Comments (0)





AG:“When these blasts happened in Pokhran, did you feel that they were an act of hostility directed at Pakistan?”




Asma Jahangir:“Well frankly I felt angry. I felt angry at the Indian leadership because I felt that they were going to start a nuclear race in the region. And yes, I felt that my security was threatened. But I felt that if we do the same it’ll be doubly threatened. I have never felt so insecure, so unhappy in my life as [I was] after we tested our own nuclear device. I felt doubly insecure. I am not convinced of the argument that it is a deterrent.”


AG:“Do you feel that a nuclear war is a possibility?”

Asma Jahangir:“If you ask me, anything is a possibility between India and Pakistan.


India-Pakistan border post., Wagah, 1998

India-Pakistan border post., Wagah, 1998

Because our policies are irrational. Our decision-making is ad hoc. We have been surrounded by disinformation [about] each other. We have a historical enmity. We have this whole emotionalism of jihad against each other – on our part it is jihad; on your part there is a lobby that will never accept the existence of Pakistan.











We are fatalistic nations who believe that whatever has happened – famine, accidents, drought – it is the will of God. We learn to accept every catastrophe. And that is not, I’m afraid, a very helpful frame of mind. And then our decision-making is done by a few opinion makers on both sides. It’s not the ordinary woman living in a village in Bihar whose voice is going to be heard, who is going to say, for God’s sake I don’t want this nuclear bomb, I want my cow and milk for my children. She is nowhere, she doesn’t figure anywhere. It worries me. It really worries me. And the possibility of a mistake: can you imagine? Plus, look at the education of our people in terms of what a nuclear bomb is. If we knew what a nuclear bomb is we wouldn’t have people on the road distributing sweetmeats. We wouldn’t have people celebrating and dancing. They think that it’s a kite-flying contest, like an India-Pakistan bokaata: it’s a really amazing and frightening reaction.”

AG:“But despite all these problems I know that you’ve been involved in reaching out to India, in people-to-people contacts. What is it that keeps you interested in doing that?”

Asma Jahangir:“Because I have a great faith in people’s own instincts. And I think once you break the barriers of disinformation, people’s own instincts are what we have to depend on. I feel hopeful. I can give you a recent example of two young colleagues from my office, two young chaps, lawyers, who went to India and who’ve just come back. They were amazed. I’ve been there myself, so I could relate. They said, we went into their temples, nobody stopped us. One young chap was staying with a Hindu family who had moved during partition. People had scared them that once they go the police wd hound them. These were two people who were not aware: who had less trust in what I was saying than in Pakistan television’s propaganda. So they came back really amazed. They said we went to the Supreme Court, and they knew about laws passed in Pakistan; there were people who were very worried about our country; and the language, the cultural habits, the body language. All of that is very much alike, particularly when you talk about Delhi and Lahore, there is far less difference than between Lahore and Quetta.”



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