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May 26, 2012

Marbleheader brings Indian, Pakistani professors together

Marbleheader brings Indian, Pakistani professors together

MARBLEHEAD — The quarrel between India and Pakistan has long been one of the hottest disputes on the planet. Over the past half-century, both have been frequently at sword's point and twice at war.

Today, with terrorism and nuclear weapons in the mix, the rivalry is increasingly worrisome. It's an argument bitter enough to make some throw up their hands and walk away.

But not Bob McNulty.

The director of programs at the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University, McNulty believes that both business and ethics can be a springboard into a world of peace. To prove it, the Marbleheader hosted a symposium two years ago at Bentley including academics from Israel and Palestine.

This week, he repeated the effort with four professors, two from India and two from Pakistan. The difficult business of finding peace cannot be left to politicians or generals, he said.

"There is enormous conflict between India and Pakistan," he said. "But I firmly believe eventually it can be resolved."

Even better, after a few days, so did his guests.

"I was quite skeptical," said Hashir Irshad, assistant professor of finance at FAST National University in Islamabad, Pakistan. "Then, in meeting these wonderful people from across the border ... I got convinced."

He added, "In the last four, five, six days we have yet to find a thing on which we disagree."

Jerome Joseph of the Indian Institute of Management was quick to note that their two governments are currently talking rather than fighting. He was eager as well to promote a program of business expansion meant to increase cross-border ties and provide jobs for those who might be lured into violent activities.

India is one of the world's fastest-growing economies, noted Huma Baqai, of the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi, Pakistan. Cooperation with the neighbors is becoming increasingly important.

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