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South Asia can learn from EU’s oriental approach for resolving long-standing inter-state conflicts

“European Union is a proper answer to endemic conflicts, which had been tearing the European subcontinent since times immemorial.  South Asian states can learn from EU oriental approach to pave the way of resolving long-standing inter-state conflicts.” These views were expressed by Prof. Krzysztof Byrski, a renowned Polish expert on South Asian Affairs at a lecture organized by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) at its premises on 9 February. Prof. Byrski opined that the unification of Europe as part of globalization process should be perceived as a step in the direction of the ultimate unity of the mankind that is looked for by followers of many religions. He argued that practical realization of idea of South Asian Union can later pave the way for Eurasian unity. Languages spoken by the people of Europe and South Asia fit into the Indo-European family of languages. In spite of sharing a lot of commonalities, Europeans have long faced the problems being faced by the South Asians nations today. Armed conflicts, territorial disputes, wars and arms race are few examples to mention here. It took two world wars for European to realize the importance of unity and finding out the peaceful ways to settle down the disputes.

Prof. Byrski said the clarion call of the united Europe should be a paraphrase of one of the Divine Commandments that instructs “love your neighborly nation(s) as you love yourself”. At this stage when European nations are making exemplary moves for unity and peaceful coexistence, Europe has to realize that the unprecedented project of her peaceful unification will have a tremendous impact upon the rest of world, comparable to the impact of her technological achievements. Europeans should be aware that while building Europe’s unity they offer a testimony to the entire world. Pror. Byrski asserted that idea of European Union is also applicable in the South Asian context. While sharing his experiences during his stay in India as an Ambassador of Poland, he mentioned that culture has been a powerful uniting factor between India and Pakistan. There is need to work on human minds more and try to educate people and give them awareness about brotherhood among other identities.

The lecture was followed by a lively Q&A session. Responding to a question regarding the role of economic inter-dependence for sustained regionalism, Prof. Byrski said South Asian nations can also witness dramatic economic prosperity if they give away differences. Prof. Byrski was of the view that religious authorities have an important role to bring people together.  As in 1966 Polish bishops announced to the Russians that we forgive your crimes and you forgive ours… and that timely act resulted in the form of an improved environment in which both sides built trust and paved the way for friendly relationships. While concluding his remarks, Prof. Byrski said optimism is the key for regional peace and prosperity.