A case and a role for think tanks: India and Pakistan peace dialogue

29 July 2013

I spotted this article in the DAWN.com site a couple of weeks ago and I thought it was worth sharing: India, Pakistan think-tanks dialogue: Resolution calls for easing travel restrictions. When asked why think tanks are important we often focus on their ‘impact on policy’. Global donors are certainly increasingly interested in this. But this narrow attention on impact risks forgetting other many important functions and roles they can play in their society.

In this case, the article describes a dialogue that took place between think tanks from India and Pakistan (the Jinnah Institute and New Delhis Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation) to address how the two governments can improve their relations and to address human rights concerns in Kashmir.

The conference was designed to focus on promoting a robust and inclusive dialogue between civil society from Pakistan and India, and to ensure that dialogue and diplomacy in the region did not remain hostage to various incidents and disruptions, so that civil society could continue to play a role in ensuring peace in South Asia.

The literature of think tanks in China often refers to them as ‘windows‘. This relates to their ability to open a channel of communication between officials from China and those from other countries. While it is hard for elected and appointed officials to travel and meet their counterparts -and certainly to share their impressions with others- it is much easier for scholars to do so.

This is an excellent example of such a case.