Two men — an older Pakistani gentleman in his late 50s, the other, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette student from India — sit together while a conflict is set to divide their people.
The tension between the nations can be traced back to the ‘40s when Pakistan was formed from India in 1947 with the partition of India.
Erin O’Donnell, Ph.D., associate professor of history at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania, said both nations were born with tension.
“Part of the problem is you have Pakistan that is a Muslim country,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell, an alumni and graduate of UL Lafayette in 1985, added Pakistan’s independence near the middle of the 20th century was for religious reasons.
“And that’s one reason it wanted to become an independent nation, because in 1947, you had 15 to 20% of the country that was Muslims; the rest were either Hindus or Buddhist,” O’Donnell said.
Tariq Mehmood, a native of Pakistan, said the people of neither nor India and Pakistan are to blame.
“It’s nothing wrong with the people; the politicians make things worse,” Mehmood said. “We’re almost on the brink of war now.”
After moving to the states in the late ‘90s for school, Mehmood said, even to this day, he sees that the people of India and Pakistan are still manipulated by politicians and journalists.
“They play with people’s mind,” he said. “The media will play a role that will make people on both sides enemies. That’s just the media.”
Mehmood mentioned his fear of both countries’ ever-growing concerns that could lead to a new war.
"Just look at the history,” Mehmood said. “There were lots of wars. It was a disaster and a lot of people died.”
Mehmood added both India and Pakistan need to come together as a country before more wars and casualties could occur.
“Take out all the animosity, the religion and the politics, okay? Think like a human. What kind of achievement would you have with the war?” Mehmood said.
If they don’t think now, then there could be a problem, he opined.
Although there are religious tensions between the two, the larger issue, according to O’Donnell, is political.
Sitting on top and, at the same time, in the middle of both India and Pakistan’s tension is the country of Kashmir.
According to O’Donnell, Kashmir is contested by both India and Pakistan.
“Both countries have some form of authority in Kashmir and it’s a part of India that really got caught in the middle,” O’Donnell said. “Half of it is claimed by Kashmir and half of it is claimed by India and they still fight over it.”
Following the attack of 37 soldiers in India, O’Donnell said the tensions with Pakistan and India reached their apex.
“So what happened is the Indian army was moving troops in Kashmir and there was a bombing that killed 40 or so soldiers,” O’Donnell said, adding, “and that ratcheted up the tension.”
She added often what happens in those intense moments is there is a lot of official rhetoric, especially with politics in Kashmir.
“Both Pakistan and India want to govern it and they are coming to blows over that,” O’Donnell said. “And those citizens want their own independence, so they are caught in the middle.”
While both O’Donnell and Mehmood agree on politics as one of the main parts of the tension with Pakistan and India, Rajan Dhanani, a senior finance major at UL Lafayette, said those on the border are causing the main problems with Pakistan and India.
“My take on that is the two people who are messing up the two countries are mainly the people staying on the main border.”
Dhanani, a native of India, said he knows people from Pakistan.
“They are very, very friendly,” he said. “I don’t see the difference between India and Pakistan because they came from the same background, the same culture.”
Though they are divided at times, Dhanani added they seem the same to him.
“I see they come from a different region but they have the same behavioral traits,” Dhanani said.
Though things may look bleak right now, Dhanani did say he believes some good will eventually come between the two countries.
“As this generation takes a turn, I think there is a future for Pakistan and India,” Dhanani said.