War only benefits a handful of influential profiteering interests who feed on hatred and fear. It is the people who never wish for war that face its repercussions.” At a time when divisive and warmongering narratives have strained Indo-Pak relations to virtually breaking point, Indian and Pakistani scholars and students of Oxford University held a solidarity demonstration at the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford on Saturday. The group also issued a statement, reproduced in full below:
We are a group of Indian and Pakistani students at the University of Oxford who are deeply disturbed by the escalation of tensions over an impending war between India and Pakistan. We strongly condemn the suicide bombing in Pulwama, Kashmir on February 14, 2019 which claimed the lives of around 44 Indian soldiers. We denounce terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
As students in a land that is foreign to our homes – India and Pakistan – we’ve always marvelled at how we seamlessly gravitate towards each other, and how we are able to come together in community in ways we can’t back home. We often talk about the similarities we share in our food, culture, histories and the challenges we face. The Indo-Pak community has emerged as a place of refuge and comfort for us. However, when we imagine visiting each other’s homes we realise all the ways in which visas and politics restrict us. As we sit together now, watching the increasingly violent direction the current discourse is taking, we are frightened.
We come from parts of the world where the rhetoric of war isn’t new, and its consequences aren’t abstract. War only benefits a handful of influential profiteering interests who feed on hatred and fear. It is the people who never wish for war that face its repercussions. It is a luxury to be able to debate the possibility of war when the death, grief and loss that accompany it are not part of your everyday. For some people, especially the already dispossessed, the human cost of war is no cliché. It is lived reality.
We urge our fellow Pakistanis and Indians both within and outside the subcontinent to stand together in unity, focus on our commonalities, and reject divisive narratives. We call upon the leaders of our countries to develop de-escalation protocols, organise constructive peace talks and dialogue for the resolution of all bilateral issues.
War and warmongering are always unequivocally deplorable. At a time when India and Pakistan are lurching from crisis to crisis, we condemn the irresponsible rhetoric flooding the media in both countries in the strongest possible terms.
We dare to imagine a future that is free of divisions and violence, and unshadowed by the politics of war. We refuse to succumb to this environment of fear and suspicion. We refuse to see our friends as enemies. We refuse to hate those we hold dear.
The Wire n