And this time the academics

THE denial of visa by India to Pakistani Academics to attend a conference of Association for Asian Studies in New Delhi should not come as a surprise for many as over the last couple of years, the Indian government has taken the hostilities to such levels that it has closed all its doors for Pakistani people be these literary figures, personalities from showbiz or the pilgrims desiring to pay homage at the shrines of Sufi saints.
However, what has happened different this time is that the scholars from other participating Universities in the conference such as Yale, Harvard and Princeton have protested the decision of Indian External Affairs Ministry and have gone to the extent of mooting a resolution to not hold conferences in such countries anymore which ban travelling of academics. Indeed the purpose of such conferences is not political but to encourage collaboration and intellectual exchange amongst scholars. The whole point of academic conferences is to have an open dialogue as much as possible with exchange of ideas and knowledge and providing solution to the problems faced by the people. So putting any kind of bar on academics holds no ground and we really appreciate the condemnation resolution from other scholars for standing by their Pakistani friends. Without any biasness, such conferences indeed should not be held in countries which cannot see matters beyond their narrow prism and hostility. In fact this is not the first incident of its kind as in the month of May also, we saw India restricting Moneeza Hashmi, the daughter of renowned poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz from attending Asia Media Summit in New Delhi. Then the intransigence of India on issuance of visas to Pakistani patients is also known to everybody but on the other hand, Pakistani side is wholeheartedly and always welcoming not only the pilgrims but also poets and writers from the neighbouring country. This is sufficient for the world to discern clearly as to which country is taking the hard and extremist line and which one desires to take the matters towards improvement in relations. It is also for the saner elements within India to speak up against the current posture of Indian government towards Pakistan and pressurize it to positively reciprocate to Pakistan’s overtures. Closing the doors for people-to-people contacts will only further complicate the matters and stoke misunderstanding which will not augur well for the future of this region already ridden by conflicts.

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