Ambassador Dr. Akbar S. Ahmed speech on “India and Pakistan: Searching for Humanity in South Asia” at ISSI


Searching for Humanity in the Age of Madness

I would like to thank Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry, Director General of the Institute, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman, and their distinguished colleagues for inviting me to this special lecture. I am grateful to Dr. Rajmohan Gandhi for being a discussant today.

My talk will be in three parts. The first will be called Madness, the second Hatred and the third Hope. I will then present my conclusions.


Bernard-Henri Levy, the French celebrity philosopher, has coined the phrase for the period in which we are living as the age of madness. The coronavirus, he has argued, is revealing the fault- lines that divide   society. We in South Asia appear to be living in our own bubble of hyper-madness within the age of madness.

There is a battle brewing that will define not only India but the entire region. If the mood of unchecked hate grows in India, a clash with Pakistan will be inevitable and it could involve a nuclear exchange. The leaders of India can huff and puff against Pakistan but in their heart of hearts they can never be sure that Pakistan, if attacked and backed into a corner, would not press the nuclear button.

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