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total length: 24:37

Clip 1 (length 5:17)
Hope for peace between India and Pakistan

Clip 2 (length 7:20)
Analyzing Pakistan's nuclear scandal

Clip 3 (length 5:38)
President Pervez Musharraf's difficult balancing act

Clip 4 (length 6:22)
The Kashmir issue challenges the peace process


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Image from the storyNegotiate Peace for India and Pakistan

Target Grade Levels:
Grades 7-12

Conflict, Peace

• The Activity
• Relevant National Standards
• Cross-Curricular Activities
• Ties to Literature

The Activity

India and Pakistan have fought four wars since partition in 1947. Much of the conflict has arisen over ownership of the territory of Kashmir. In a January 2004 summit, Pakistan's president , General Pervez Musharraf, and India's prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, agreed to resume a dialogue over this disputed territory. In this activity, students will role-play these peace negotiations and examine related political, social and economic issues.

To get a picture of the class's background knowledge of this complex conflict, begin the activity with a semantic mapping exercise. Write "Pakistan" on a flip chart and ask students to take a minute or two to jot down any ideas or thoughts that come to mind. Then open the exercise up to the class and let students share their thinking aloud. Chart the responses, grouping similar topics. Repeat the exercise with India as the focus. Note any knowledge gaps and/or misconceptions for later discussion.

Next, show students where India and Pakistan are on a map and emphasize their geographic position at the crossroads between South, West and Central Asia. Explain (or review) how Pakistan was created in 1947 when India gained independence from Great Britain. Also review that India and Pakistan have been in conflict over ownership of the territory of Kashmir, but that the countries' leaders have agreed to begin discussing a peace agreement. Tell students that they will be role-playing these peace talks with a partner.

Divide students into pairs and have one student in each pair play the role of Pakistan and the other, India. Students should prepare for these peace talks by gathering information on the following:

  • Origins of the dispute
  • Interests of India and Pakistan in Kashmir (prioritized)
  • Economic, political and social benefits that peace would bring
  • Global importance of peace between India and Pakistan (for example, they're both nuclear powers)

Students should begin their research with the following FRONTLINE/World resources:

Synopsis of On a Razor's Edge Story

Voices From the Whirlwind: "Shahzad," an Underground Militant

Interview With Sharmeen Obaid: The Brink of Peace

Facts & Stats for Pakistan: On a Razor's Edge

Links & Resources: On a Razor's Edge (see the "Pakistan and India" section)

When research is complete, the student pairs should come together for peace talks. Encourage students to emphasize the benefits of peace, discuss the issues, brainstorm steps toward resolving the conflict and consider possible compromises related to the interests of each country.

Conclude the activity by discussing as a class what happened in each pair's peace talks. Ask students to predict what will happen in actual peace negotiations between India and Pakistan. Check to see that earlier student knowledge gaps and misconceptions have been appropriately addressed during the steps of the activity.

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Relevant National Standards

These standards are drawn from "Content Knowledge," a compilation of content standards and benchmarks for K-12 curriculum by McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning) at

Standard 13: Understands the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape the divisions of Earth's surface
Level IV, Benchmark 6
Understands how external forces can conflict economically and politically with internal interests in a region (e.g., how the Pampas in Argentina underwent a significant socioeconomic transformation in the 19th and early 20th centuries as a consequence of European demands for grain and beef; the consequences of the French colonization of IndoChina in the 19th century to procure tin, tungsten and rubber; the friction between Hindus and Moslems in the Indian subcontinent in the 1940s that led to the formation of India and Pakistan)
World History
Standard 43: Understands how post-World War II reconstruction occurred, new international power relations took shape and colonial empires broke up
Level IV, Benchmark 3
Understands reasons for the division of the Indian subcontinent (e.g., events that led to the dispute over Kashmir and the resulting partition of the Indian subcontinent, and the role of the United Nations in the mediation of the dispute; how the withdrawal of the British and the division between Muslims and Hindus affected the division of the Indian subcontinent into two nations)

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Cross-Curricular Activities
Consider building on the themes of the above activity by working with colleagues in other disciplines to conduct the following activities.

Explore the Global Dangers and Scientific Foundation of Nuclear Bombs (Science)

The Activity

Ever since the first nuclear bomb was detonated in 1945, many countries have tried to put themselves on the international map as a nuclear power. One country that succeeded is Pakistan, and in February 2004, Pakistani scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan confessed that he spread nuclear secrets and technology to additional countries: North Korea, Libya and Iran. In addition, Pakistan is engaged in an ongoing conflict with India, another nuclear state. Point out the location of each of these countries on a map. Then help students understand these global dangers and their scientific foundation by exploring the sources and properties of nuclear reactions.

Introduce the topic by having students read the Pakistan As a Nuclear Power section of the Facts & Stats page for the FRONTLINE/World story "Pakistan: On a Razor's Edge."
Allow students a few minutes to react to the reading. Ask, "Why do you think Pakistan thought it was so important to become a nuclear state?" and "What are the potential consequences of Dr. Khan's actions?" (Note: For more in-depth information on Dr. Khan's activities, please see Essential Backgrounders From The New York Times

Next, divide students into pairs and have them research how nuclear bombs work. Ask students to pay special attention to the transfer of energy that triggers a nuclear reaction and why such large amounts of energy are released from the nuclear reactions in atomic or hydrogen bombs. Students may find it helpful to begin their research with the HowStuffWorks feature How Nuclear Bombs Work

Student pairs should synthesize their research into a PowerPoint or other type of presentation that they can use to teach another pair in the class about how nuclear bombs work. After each pair has had a turn presenting, allow time for students to give feedback on each other's work and make content corrections on presentations before they are submitted for grading.


Visit the FRONTLINE/World story "On a Razor's Edge"
for more background and an insightful interview with Pakistani reporter Sharmeen Obaid.

Relevant National Standards

Physical Science
Standard 9: Understands the sources and properties of energy

Level III, Benchmark 6 Knows that most chemical and nuclear reactions involve a transfer of energy (e.g., heat, light, mechanical motion, electricity)
Standard 10: Understands forces and motion
Level IV, Benchmark 2 Knows that nuclear forces are much stronger than electromagnetic forces, which are vastly stronger than gravitational forces; the strength of nuclear forces explains why great amounts of energy are released from the nuclear reactions in atomic or hydrogen bombs and in the Sun and other stars

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