Veteran soldiers from India and Pakistan join hands to help peace process

By Jugal R. Purohit

Veteran soldiers from the Indian and Pakistani armed forces started their annual peace initiative in Delhi with a discussion where they called for a paradigm shift in the relations of the two neighbouring countries.

Organised under the aegis of the India Pakistan Soldiers’ Initiative (IPSI), the event saw the Indian chapter hosting an 18-member strong delegation of retired Pakistan armed force members and their families.

“Both our populations today have far less of collective memory of India and Pakistan being a part of one dominion. This, in my understanding, is a conducive climate for peace. However, from what I have observed, Indians in their thoughts remain frozen in the psyche of the 60s. But Pakistanis have moved on to the 21st century,” Congress MP and IPSI Chairperson Mani Shankar Aiyar, a former diplomat, said at the event on Friday.

The leader of the Pakistani delegation, former ambassador Lt. Gen. (retd.) Humayun Bangash, stressed the need to bust myths and clarify perceptions.

“I have lost my brother, who was the police chief of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to a suicide terrorist strike. And there are many like me in my country who are victims. Not every terror attack in India is planned by the Pakistan Army,” he said.

From the Indian side, Maj. Gen. (retd.) M.A. Naik remarked that it was fitting that ex-servicemen got the opportunity to talk about peace.

“After spending 39 years in the Army where we planned on check-mating the other side, after retiring when I got this opportunity it felt very odd. But come to think of it, who can understand the value of peace better than those who have lost friends, relatives and colleagues to violence,” he said.