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'Is it in India and Pakistan's interest to have a war? No'

March 26, 2009
If you haven't met or don't know Hameed Haroon of Karachi you don't know enough about the real Pakistan of 2009. Like all nations and people, Pakistan and Pakistanis too exist in many layers and facets. Hameed, 56, was born and lives in Karachi where his and The Dawn newspaper's presence are inescapable. The oldest English daily of Pakistan that proudly proclaims that it was founded by Mohammad Ali Jinnah in 1941 is now owned by Hameed's family.

Being the CEO of the Dawn Media Group, Hameed is obviously a powerful voice of Pakistan, but what makes him an outstanding Asian is his marvelous efforts in the field of culture.

Hameed enjoys a larger than life persona even in New Delhi because he is outspoken and knows India as well as he knows his country. His paper has fought many battles over journalistic independence with powerful politicians in Islamabad. Hameed has a master's degree from Harvard University and a double master's in economics from Boston University. He got his bachelor's degree from the London School of Economics. But his career and life are guided by his illustrious family's traditions, his own understanding of Asian culture and his commitment to ethics in the media. Hameed has Sindhi, Persian, Indian and even Mogul connections in his family tree.

He is fluent in Chinese and a well-acclaimed and high-profile connoisseur of music, arts and archeology. He helps manage the Mohatta Palace Gallery Trust, the Lahore Museum and the committee for the development of Mohenjodaro. His passion for preserving culture has helped in bringing alive the exhibition on Pakistan's history and a unique exhibition on Karachi under the Raj 1843-1947. Hameed represents that Pakistan the world is not in a mood to see in this age of jihad.

When even US President Barack Obama finds Pakistan a "scary" place it is important to hear Hameed Haroon, whose Herald publications not only runs his country’s largest English daily but also owns magazines, a TV channel and dawn.com, a must-see web site for people interested in understanding Pakistan.

In his luxurious suite at the Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi, the irrepressible Haroon opened his heart out to rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt. The interview was conducted before the Lahore attack on Sri Lankan cricketers.

What are India's options after the Mumbai terror attacks?

The option to operate may not be wide for India but India needs a solution and not an option. India's solution lies in encouraging the government of Pakistan in every way possible to move institutionally to cut back on the kind of powers that the jihadi establishment has gained in Pakistani society. In case of Mumbai, is it in India and Pakistan's interests to have a war? No. As long as Americans and the UK gravitate against the idea of war we are better off. They may be doing it for a different reason. They are interested in Afghanistan. They are also not interested in the war because we are the only two US allies in the region. Their position in the Arab world and Iran is terrible.

Image: The Taj Mahal Hotel burns during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Inset: Hameed Haroon
The Taj Mahal Hotel Photograph: Uttam Ghosh

Also see:
'The jihadists are dragging us into the middle ages'

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