Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy is a pakistani nuclear scientist, also a prominent disarmament activist. He is currently on an India visit and was here today. The documentary on Kashmir, by Pervez Hoodbhoy and Zia Mian, was also screened on this occasion. It was followed by a discussion initiated by Hoodbhoy.
According to Hoodbhoy, there's a thaw in the Indo-Pak relations now. For instance several times before he did not get an Indian visa, whereas this time it was an easy affair. But we need to realize that the relationship is so precariously poised that anytime we may get back to the fragile state of affairs that was prevailing two years ago, unless both the countries consciously build up on the existing confidence building measures. There's an urgency to have "real" confidence building measures: soft borders, easier travel from one country to another, and steps to have better trade and cultural exchange, unlike things like notifying the testing of a missile two days in advance, and that sort of stuff. Hoodbhoy stressed the fact that academic exchange will have a positive impact. Especially faculty from India should take an interest in visiting Pak colleges and universities (Pak salaries in academics are fabulous, he added!). There could also be student exchange programmes.
But according to many in the audience, it's easier said than done to talk about these sort of exchange programmes. Several of them had stories about how they were denied permission by Indian authorities to go to conferences and workshops in Pakistan. Apparently a workshop in Pakistan (Islamabad, I guess) on Logic and Computer Science had to be called off as the workshop depended heavily on the participation of three Chennai based theoretical computer scientists, and none got permission from the govt authorities to go for that workshop. Somebody even remarked that it may be easy for Prof Hoodbhoy to travel to India now as he is a Unesco award winner and all that, and denial of entry could make big news. That's not the case with many relatively unknown scientists or human rights activists.
Finally, here's an old interview with Pervez Hoodbhoy that appeared in the Frontline.