Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Can Culture be a tool of diplomacy for building bridges between India and Pakistan?

India–Pakistan conflict remains one of the most enduring which began with the birth of the two countries in 1947 and continued till date although with variations over the period. The reasons for the conflict mainly consist of disputes over Kashmir, other territories, water and a nuclear arms race. These disputes have led to wars and crisis since 1947 and have continued till today.

The unresolved disputes over a long period have given birth to deep-rooted mistrust and hostility between the two nations. Additionally, the presence of nuclear weapons has further jeopardized the relations putting a logjam to win mutual trust and cooperation. Under these circumstances where coercion and threat have the capacity to deteriorate further the relationships, numerous governments and civil society groups have provided an alternative platform to resolve issues peacefully. In this regard, music, cricket, theatre and people to people contacts have contributed immensely.
The phenomena of cultural diplomacy using the state’s culture in support of its foreign policy goals paved a way for the possibility of peaceful India–Pakistan relations.

It is further identified that the efficacy of culture to act as a connecting link between the two countries is higher and more feasible compared to the use of coercion and threat. The former can bring friendship, peace and brotherhood between India and Pakistan while the later can inflict the two nations with death, destruction and sorrow.  There has been an immense contribution of artists and sports persons in promoting peace and amity between India and Pakistan. They along with scholars, students, actors, musicians and writers act as emissaries of peace and goodwill. Their numbers have grown bigger, and the demand for increasing cultural activities has seen a huge leap. The most important among them are theatre, cinema and sports which constitute the larger portion of cultural diplomacy between India and Pakistan.

In an article from the journal, Millennial Asia, theatre as a component of culture and its contribution to the cultural diplomacy is dealt with. Theatre has been an important medium of cultural activity that provides a unique platform for face-to-face interaction between the artists and the audience. In a conflict zone, theatre plays a vital role in disseminating the message of peace and displays the ill effects of conflict through plays and by the informal interactions afterwards. This unique characteristic of theatre makes the artists peace ambassadors of their respective countries and increases their relevance in peace building.

Register now to read more about how theatre groups are crossing the border more frequently as compared to any other civil society groups.