And for once Prime Minster Manmohan Singh deserves kudos for taking a bold initiative by inviting Nawaz Sharief, Prime Minster –in-waiting of Pakistan to Visit India at a mutually convenient date. That gesture has been well reciprocated by Nawaz Sharief. In a media interview he said that a new round of talks will be resumed with India on the issue of Kashmir, and that ties with neighboring countries will also be strengthened.
Let us be fair to Pakistan which has already taken two important steps in 2012 to normalize relations with India. It has all but formally granted Most Favored Nation Status to its neighbor by allowing imports of over 6000 items from India; and it has also partly agreed to a liberalized visa regime.
Both measures were in response to long-standing Indian demands for concrete ‘confidence building measures’ before simmering disputes over Kashmir and Siachin could be settled. Unfortunately the unpleasant border incidents, unjustified hanging of Afzal Guroo, killing of each others prisoners & more importantly a jingoish & hysterical approach of Indian media put cold water on whatever little warmth had been achieved in 2012.It has reduced Indo-Pak relations to a snake & ladder game.
Let us also remember that Indo-Pak landscapes are littered with the debris of unimplemented joint statements, joint commissions, working groups, & Miscellaneous agreements etc. On a number of occasions, the Indo-Pak diplomatic weather has improved, but the climate has never really changed. Through the current invitation, India has sent a clear signal that it is ready yet,once again for peace talks & a serious discussion as well. But it needs to introspect & analyze how & why such efforts in the past have failed? Already a section of Indian media represented by the likes of Arnab Goswamis & venky vembus have started calling Nawaz as “Kargil Sharief”. A proper homework needs to be done & prophets of doom reined & restrained from sabotaging the peace moves. It is time that inputs of multiple security agencies are relegated to a background and problem seen through a clean transparent glass instead of a colored prism provided by them.
The supreme act of patriotism for both Indians and Pakistanis will be to stop the confrontation between their two countries and establish just peace. At the bottom of it all is the Kashmir dispute, which is now communal as well as military. The start of a serious, responsible dialogue is bound to produce — if it turns out to be successful — peace and prosperity, and augur well for a new world order. But communal views today mar harmony among the Indo-Pakistan humanity. Such an epic event cannot happen merely by the leaders meeting and talking. It requires a powerful awakening among the masses on both sides. Each side needs to make their constituencies ready for hard takes. Here again India has to take a bold initiative by making a true & fair disclosure of Kashmir problem to its people who have been fed on false “Atoot Ang” rhetoric since decades. They need to be told how & in what circumstances, Kashmir became that “Atoot Ang” and the promises made to the people of Kashmir & the international community at large of solving the puzzle through a fair vote once the situation becomes normal.
And it must also remembered that both these countries are nuclear armed to the teeth and their armies have already ceded space to extremists & hot heads. It will be in order here to quote an instance of great statesmanship exhibited by powerful world leaders of yore. When Nikita Khrushchev of USSR sent Soviet warships to Cuba with nuclear arms, John F. Kennedy of USA sailed his own fleet, duly armed, to stop that advance. A world-scale confrontation seemed imminent. At that point, one great man, Bertrand Russell, travelled from city to city and held press conferences. In London he told the British people that unless the disaster was averted they would not eat their breakfast the following day. But none, not even Nehru, woke up to his message. Except one man: Khrushchev himself. He withdrew the Soviet fleet, and saved the world.
A similar drama awaits us unless potential nuclear disaster is stopped right now. Dinner parties in Delhi and Islamabad will all end. Tomorrow may be too late. It needs no astrologer to predict that the Asian humanity’s survival is in peril. Awake, arise. It may be now or never.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. E Mail: email@example.com)