What’s Pugwash?

Einstein-Russell legacy & global peace

A bunch of intellectuals, commentators, military retirees and political leaders from Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir are closeted in Kathmandu for a pow-wow organised by a low profile international organisation called Pugwash.

Pugwhat?

The Pugwash Conferences take their name from the location of the first meeting, which was held in 1957 in the village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada, birthplace of the American philanthropist Cyrus Eaton, who hosted the meeting. The stimulus for that gathering was a Manifesto issued in 1955 by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein — and signed also by Max Born, Percy Bridgman, Leopold Infeld, Frederic Joliot-Curie, Herman Muller, Linus Pauling, Cecil Powell, Joseph Rotblat, and Hideki Yukawa — which called upon scientists of all political persuasions to assemble to discuss the threat posed to civilization by the advent of thermonuclear weapons. [Pugwash]

Here then is the problem which we present to you. Stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war? [Russell-Einstein Manifesto]

Previous conferences have brought some of the best thinkers and opinion-shapers together, although this is the first time that Kashmiri politicians have been involved — not all of them, though, as both elected representatives of the Indian Kashmir and unelected hardliners like Geelani stayed out. But Pugwash denied Geelani wimping room when it clarified that he stayed out of his own volition and not because of travel restrictions imposed by the Indian or the Nepalese governments. Geelani’s excuse this time that he was not issued a passport by the government. Nice try, but Indian citizens do not need a passport to travel to Nepal. His other excuse is of the primary school kind — those mystery illnesses which conveniently appear when you don’t finish your homework.

The Hurriyat though will have to think of new excuses not to pursue talks with the Manmohan Singh’s government, now that the Hurriyat leaders have met with their counterparts from ‘the other side’.

All thanks to Pugwash.