Jaipur: While referring to the recent border row between India and Pakistan, a panel at the Jaipur Literature Festival blamed the media for feeding people with "petty prejudices" instead of playing a positive role. The panelists, while holding discussion in the session 'Neighbours: Walls and Bridges', appealed to work on the "commonalities" present in the two countries.
Referring to the differences present between the two countries, Director General Indian Council for Cultural Relations Suresh K Goel said that it should not stop from building bridges. "Walls are a fact of life but these barriers should not stop us from building bridges. There are differences you cannot wish it away," he said.
Former Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Shahid Malik, said that there was a lot to learn and share from each-other. "There are innumerable commonalities present in our countries. We need to work on them. We have so much to learn and share from each other," Malik said.
However, he refused to comment on Hafiz Saeed saying such topics should not be discussed on a literary platform. "Talk about this on some other event. It is about literature here. We know each other's stand," Malik said.
Pakistani poet Fahmida Riaz regretted that media in both the countries has not played a positive role. "Media in both India and Pakistan has been feeding people with petty prejudices instead of playing roles to bridge gaps," Riaz said.
Author-diplomat Pavan Varma said that the cultural ties between the both countries are so strong that they can never be eroded, however, there was a need to have a balance. "We should pursue cultural diplomacy. The ties are so strong they can never be eroded. We need to end hostilities. Let us come to a balance," Varma said.
The panel also included Bangladeshi novelist Anisul Hoque, Nepali journalist Kanak Mani Dixit. "Culture has been made to stop at national boundaries. We need to have a south-asian cultural which includes Nepal, Bangladesh and other countries too. Let us try to reach for that extra identity," Dixit, editor-publisher of 'Himal' magazine said.
"We love Saurabh Ganguly and when Sunil Gangopadhyay passed away we felt a member of our family died," Bangladeshi novelist Hoque said. Reacting on the recent controversy regarding Pakistani theatre groups being refused to stage their shows, Goel said that government had to make sure there was no harm to guests.
"We had to see that those public sentiments do not create security concerns. We had to make sure that no harm was there for our guests," Goel said.