Oct 13 - 19, 2003



MALIK AZEEM AHMED KHAN is an Indian businessmen turned politician. Associated with Bahujan Samaj Party, Azeem is also an active member of All India Babri Masjid Action Committee. Based at historic city of Agra, Azeem's business deals in leather and leather products besides exports in gem and jewellery. His political career is spread over two decades during which he served the cause of minorities in general and for the Muslims in particular. He endeavors to provide a bridge between the Muslims and the government to resolve the issues faced the Indian Muslims. As an active member of the Babri Masjid he feels that Muslims have a strong case and are hopeful to emerge as victorious especially in view of the strong and impartial judiciary in India. Currently he is on a personal visit to Pakistan.

PAGE: Being a businessman how do you see the future of economic cooperation between India and Pakistan especially in the face of WTO which, is going to be effective from January 2005.

AZEEM: It is unfortunate that despite having tremendous economic potentials, natural resources, skilled man power in all economic field, both India and Pakistan have failed to go together to consolidate plentiful of resources for the masses of the two countries. Had they got together to combat the economic problems they could have emerged as the strongest economies on the world map. Although we have already lost a great deal of time in fight and raising accusing fingers at each other, yet it is never late to rectify the situation.

As far as the implementation of WTO was concerned, both India and Pakistan are being looked at by the developed world as a great market for their products. In fact this kind of situation would pose the similar challenges to the economies of the two countries and the remedy lies in consolidating their resources. You know whenever Pakistan products are displayed for sale at Pakistan Bazaar in New Delhi people from all walks of life, irrespective of their cast and creed buy them with great enthusiasm. This indicates about the available market for Pakistan products in India. If the two nations succeed in normalizing bilateral ties, investment at a massive scale can pour in Pakistan from Indian investors as well as transfer of technology in manufacturing sector. Take the example of IT sector or other hi-tech industries, Indian Muslims are playing a key role in all leading sectors and can bring in expertise to this country as well.

PAGE: The only bone of contention between India and Pakistan was the dispute of Kashmir, which has already resulted in two wars at full scale in the past. How the two countries can come closer to each other unless the Kashmir issue was resolved?



AZEEM: Undoubtedly, the Kashmir problem is the core issue between the two nations, yet every problem has an answer provided the two sides have a will to resolve the issues. In my opinion the dispute can be sorted out with a "give and take" spirit amongst both sides. It is in the interest of the people at large in the sub-continent that the Kashmir issue is resolved to improve the lot of a great number of people living below the poverty line in both the countries. At the social front, it is also the responsibilities of the people to force their respective governments to find out an amicable solution of the problem so that they could live in peace and harmony like other regions of the world. Look at the Europe where more than 11 governments have done away with their century old currencies, visa and other barriers to facilitate their people towards more interaction amongst the nations in that region.

PAGE: The inconsistent policies and behavior of the Indian politicians have created an atmosphere of mistrust between the two countries. Take the recent example when Indian Prime Minister had loudly claimed that India wants to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogues, surprisingly there was a sudden change in this instance. How an atmosphere of confidence can develop in such a situation of somersault towards certain aims and objectives. Would it no lead for another war in this region?

AZEEM: As far as the question of war was concerned, you may write off this chapter forever. The most positive aspect of being the nuclear powers of India and Pakistan was this that it has become the most effective deterrent to the possible eruption of war in future. That means that the nuclear power is bliss in the sense that the two nations have got rid of the threat of war forever. As far as the change of attitude on the part of Indian leadership was concerned, it is because of BJP government which is in fact is the front-man of the communal forces in India. Although the BJP claims to be the champion of secularism yet actually it serves the cause of various communal forces in India. However the forthcoming elections in India may completely change the political scenario in India.