EXPERT PANEL ON INDIA/PAKISTAN CONFLICT INCLUDES ANIRUDH SURI '06
During the 32nd Conference on South Asia, held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Oct. 24-26, several distinguished scholars from all over the world offered their opinions on the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan. And Haverford’s own Anirudh Suri ’06 was among them.
Suri was invited by several Ford scholars conducting research at ACDIS (Arms, Control, Disarmament, and International Security) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne to join their panel and present his paper titled “Reassessing Relations Between Pakistan and India: New Approaches to the Kashmir Dispute.” Suri’s paper was based on research he conducted while serving a summer internship in India and Kashmir, sponsored by Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship.
In his paper, Suri examines the relationship between India and Pakistan in regard to Kashmir, an area to which both countries lay claim. He suggests different approaches and peaceful resolutions to the violent conflict. He believes that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the media can play key roles in improving relations between the two countries.
The violence in Kashmir, Suri explains, came about as a reaction to the Indian government’s harsh control over the lives of the Kashmir people. A core of militants rose up in rebellion, and the result was widespread tragedy; many children were left orphaned, and a large number of citizens suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological ailments. “Kashmir people feel the Indian government is to blame, and refuse to accept their help,” says Suri. “It’s a moral conflict; they don’t want the killers to take care of their victims’ families.”
But NGOs can support the government, he argues, by assisting orphanages and offering employment and psychiatric and medical care. They can establish trust with the people of Kashmir and prove to them that India cares about their needs. In the meantime, the media can keep an eye on the government and serve as a pressure group. This will be the first step in the process of reconciliation between the Indian government and Kashmiris. Better Indo-Kashmir relations are crucial to solving this decades-long conflict, according to Suri.
A resident of New Delhi, India, Suri had always taken an interest in the India/Pakistan clash and its affect on India’s foreign and domestic policy. His internship through the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship allowed him to journey to the heart of the conflict and study it first-hand. He spent the first two weeks of his internship in Washington, conducting research with the University of Illinois Ford scholars. From there he flew to New Delhi, where he spent three weeks with the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, examining NGOs and speaking with experts on the Kashmir political situation. (A paper he wrote based on his internship will be published in the Institute’s journal.)
He traveled to Kashmir for the remainder of the summer, where he met with representatives from NGOs, activists, students, journalists, lawyers, political leaders, and militants: “I wanted to know their reasons, what they hoped to achieve.” He visited orphanages and psychiatric hospitals to assess their needs, and assisted Women in Security, Conflict Management, and Peace (WISCOMP), a New Delhi-based women’s rights organization, with its humanitarian efforts.
Now, Suri and other Haverford students are planning their own conference for Haverford, called Conference on Comparative Study of Conflict, to be held March 26-28, 2004. “We’ll be focusing on three conflicts: India/Pakistan, Israel/Palestine, and Northern Ireland,” he says. “All have themes in common, such as religious differences and territorial disputes.” Experts on these regions, from within and outside of Haverford, will discuss each area’s peace process, and Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore students who have lived in or are affiliated with the affected areas will speak about their experiences.