Sudheendra Kulkarni, who served as a close aide to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, has in his new book mooted the idea of establishing an India-Pakistan-Bangladesh confederation before 2047. Kulkarni’s book “August Voices – What they said on 14-15 August 1947 and its relevance for India-Pakistan-Bangladesh Confederation’, will be released by Vice President Hamid Ansari here on December 28.
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“As India and Pakistan celebrate the 70th anniversary of their independence in 2017, both countries should boost efforts to normalise their relations in the new year,” Kulkarni told PTI.
“They have a responsibility to future generations to prove that their ties are not destined to be permanently marred by mistrust, hostility and conflict,” Kulkarni, who heads the Mumbai-based think tank Observer Research Foundation, said.
Kulkarni, a columnist and independent socio-political activist, said, “India’s bloody partition in 1947, and the creation of Pakistan on the basis of the baseless and toxic ‘Two-Nation’ theory, was highly unnatural. Because it was unnatural, it predictably led to Pakistan’s own bloody partition in 1971 with the liberation of Bangladesh.”
“These two partitions have created multiple problems for all three countries,” he said.
Kulkarni, who resigned from the BJP in 2013 after a close association with the party for 16 years, said, “The existence of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as three separate, independent and sovereign countries is a reality that cannot be altered.”
“Partition cannot be undone. But its negative outcomes can and must be undone jointly by the peoples and governments of India and Pakistan and Bangladesh. The beginning should be made by India and Pakistan arriving at a just, amicable, peaceful and compromise-based solution to the long-pending Kashmir dispute,” he said.
“For this to happen, Pakistan must completely eliminate the scourge of terrorism, fuelled by religious extremism, from its soil,” he said.
The first part of Kulkarni’s book is a compilation of what eight eminent personalities from the era of the freedom struggle – Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maharshi Aurobindo, Swami Ranganathananda, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Ananda Coomaraswamy said, wrote or did on August 14-15,1947.
Hence the title of the book August Voices, Kulkarni said. “None of these great men wanted partition to be what it, catastrophically, turned out to be,” he added.
The call for friendship and cooperation among India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, leading to a three-nation confederation, is embedded within the history of our freedom movement itself, he said, adding the confederation should be achieved before 2047, which marks the centenary of the end of the British rule in the subcontinent.
The book lauds efforts of former prime ministers Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh, and also those of Pakistan’s former president General Pervez Musharraf, to arrive at an innovative solution to the Kashmir issue.
“Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif should build on the edifice of constructive dialogue between their predecessors, and conclude an agreement acceptable to both countries and also to the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Kulkarni said.
According to him, alongside resolution of the Kashmir issue, India and Pakistan, together with Bangladesh should expand cooperation on all fronts and move, step by step, towards a three-nation confederation.
“This will not only benefit the three countries, but also revitalise the entire South Asia making it a region of peace, prosperity and shared progress for the largest section of global population with a common civilisational legacy. To achieve this goal, the ties between South Asian countries and China should be strengthened on the basis of equality and respect for the legitimate core concerns of all,” he said.
Mahatma Gandhi had made an impassioned plea that India and Pakistan, like Hindus and Muslims, should co-exist as brothers belonging to a single family, Kulkarni said. In 1964, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya and Rammanohar Lohia had called for an India-Pakistan confederation, he added.
Senior BJP leader L K Advani has publicly endorsed the confederation idea on many occasions, he said.
“Therefore, I have dedicated my book to Vajpayee, Advani and Singh, guided by my conviction that India needs close Congress-BJP cooperation to tackle major national problems,” Kulkarni said.
His previous book was Music of the Spinning Wheel: Mahatma Gandhi’s Manifesto for the Internet Age.
Kulkarni’s initiative ‘Mumbai-Karachi Friendship Forum’ is aimed at normalization of India-Pakistan relations and seeks to promote people-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges between India and Pakistan.