In the 60 years since their independence – and cataclysmic separation - India and Pakistan
have walked very different routes to adult nationhood.
One, remaining committed to democracy, has grown from strength to strength, and, despite
its many internal faultlines, is being widely hailed today as a rising super economy.
The other, less fortunate in losing its founding father and his liberal vision just a year after
its birth, has lurched through unstable political periods of democracy, dictatorship and
military rule, and is considered among "the most dangerous places on earth today".
Yet, for all their apparent differences – the ceasarean scar in the belly, Kashmir, the three
wars, and the divergent political trajectories – India and Pakistan remain crucially joint at the
hip. Shared borders, shared histories, shared memory, shared cultures and the unlimited
potential of the future – there is much that compels India and Pakistan to build bridges
across the past.
Important milestones, in fact, have been crossed in these 60 years. For all the aggression on
both sides, neither has stopped looking for points of friendship. And neither nation now
looks towards retrieving a prelapsarian past.
A potent time has come then for new conversations. 2008 has been a critical year for
Pakistan. As it has renewed its bid for democracy and modernity, it has reiterated its
willingness to find news ways of engaging with India. If political leaders across the borders
are to move beyond old partisan positions, the will of ordinary people will have to find
greater expression. Today, with the pervasiveness of the internet and media, it is possible to
focus and aggregate this energy.
Together, India and Pakistan comprise one of the most important regions in the world:
politically, economically and culturally. Their combined future is of crucial interest to all the
major nations of the world. What shape can that future take?
Tehelka's London summit - India & Pakistan: Designing a New Future - seeks to catalyse
new conversations around this big question. Over two days – in an atmosphere committed to
openness and frank discussion - an exciting range of political, corporate, cultural and
opinion leaders from India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom will discuss many crucial and
contentious issues to chart a possible roadmap for the future.