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On a Trapeze Between Emotion And Reality


Paramjit S. Sahai

SOUTH ASIAN COOPERATION AND THE ROLE OF THE PUNJABS
By Tridivesh Singh Maini
Siddharth Publications, Delhi, 2007, pp. 180, Rs. 275.00

VOLUME XXXI NUMBER 10 October 2007

The book under review looks at the South Asian Cooperation and India-Pakistan relations through the prism of the relationship between Indian-Punjab and Pakistan-Punjab. Maini belongs to the post-India—Pakistan partition generation and, therefore, does not carry the mindset of hate of the pre-partition generation and hence his perspective, is important.   The book is neatly divided into two parts—South Asian Cooperation and the Role of the Punjabs, and each part is again sub-divided and looks at various aspects and factors, which contribute towards the improvement or become hindrances in the furtherance of relationship between the countries and the region. The part dealing with South Asian cooperation serves as a backdrop to the understanding and comprehension of the interplay and dynamics of the ongoing relationship between the two Punjabs, on the India-Pakistan Peace Process.   Maini while looking for an ‘out of the box’ approach, however, dismisses the bureaucracy as being incapable of finding ‘creative and innovative solutions’, which are the need of the hour. On the other hand, he blames the bureaucrats for creating the mess in South Asia. If this alone was the cause, a solution could have been easily found, as bureaucrats can also be made to perform. Recognizing the complexities of the problem, Maini admits that he had undertaken a stupendous task, which was ‘to strike a balance between economics, politics and culture on the one hand and between emotions and reality on the other’.   SAARC as a bloc has not succeeded in achieving its objective and is still a long way from fulfilling its potential, of becoming a powerful regional bloc. Maini raises the questions as to whether it is the South Asian character which is inimical to regional cooperation or if other issues, like Kashmir, are militating against it. Maini holds the uneasy relationship between India and Pakistan primarily responsible for this lack of progress. Hence, he urges the need for an ‘out of the box’ thinking. This could be a combination of the functional and development integration approaches. He considers Southern African Development Corporation (SADC) as an appropriate model, which would allow for gradual and incremental increase in the improvement of relationships at the regional level. Having been associated with the Southern Africa Development Cooperation Process right from its inception in late 1970s, modelling SAARC in the SADC mould how-ever does not appear to be the solution. While lamenting the progress of Regional Cooperation, the ...


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