“Last night’s entertainment at the Caux Forum on Human Security was a film about the acquisition of nuclear weapons by India and then shortly after, Pakistan. I wouldn’t have thought this could sustain the interest, even of a bunch of peaceniks, for 90 minutes, but remarkably it did, by showing the extreme diversity of views on both sides. There was propaganda of the crudest kind – Indian politicians reciting obviously fake anecdotes about young friends studying overseas who were ashamed to say they came from India until the day when India had its own bomb – Bollywood style commercials for India’s military capability – and vitriolic statements about Pakistan.
But there were gentler moments – the debate in a Pakistan girls’ academy about whether Pakistan should have developed a bomb, where the Indian delegation gently pointed out the demagogue attitudes that already shaped their debating style, and the impassioned argument from one girl that when Pakistan can’t even provide clean water, how can it afford the bomb. A wonderful line from a song ‘Tear down the temple and tear down the mosque, but do not tear down the heart for that is where God resides.’
Overall though, it painted a picture of deep animosity and distrust by politicians on both sides, which seemed little affected by the much more varied attitudes of ordinary people. And as such, was quite worrying..