The state of South Asia

Shweta Singh
Peacebuilding Program,
Lady Shri Ram College/WISCOMP (Delhi)

Some of the key countries in south Asia are in red in the Global Peace Index. One of the major shifts in recent times has been a shift from inter state to intra state conflics, this is closely tied up with two fundamental points of contension in South Asia, religion and ethnicity.

Militarization is the manifestation of, militarism, which is structural violence. When we look at consequences of conflict we are not only talking about the state, we are also talking about the individual. ‘The indirect deaths usualy outweigh the direct effects of war’ stewart and fitzgerald 2001.

When we define peace we need to ask oursves whether we mean positive or negative peace. Negative peace is simply the lack of violence minus the resolution of actual conflict (familiar thing to a Sri Lankan maybe?)

Whe we talk about Souh Asia we need to look at the relationship between colonialism, nation state and nationalism.

(at this point various people in the audience cry out how colonialism contributed to all South Asian problems and how nationalism is a big problem, only the women speak up from the Bangladeshi table.. Hmmm)

Does our institutional framework provide the space for the separate identities that amulgamated to form the collective national identity that contributed to independence from colonialism? The nationalist gene was never comfortable in the bottle of the territorial state.

Nationalism as an idea in the context of South Asia is linked to the politics od democratic mobilization. There cannot be just one nationalism. It is a concept that relies on a dualist perspective to exist; one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

Im Afghan and i know some families where one brother is a militant and the other is a soldier, Taj, Afghan human rights worker.

Terrorism is a word that brings out stereotypical sentiments that are hacked by the media. The word needs to be redefined, it is corrupted. Rashid, Journalist, Kashmir


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