The symbolic gesture of exchanging sweets at the crossing points at Chakkan da Bagh and Mendhar in Poonch sector on the Line of Control is welcome but only if the political leadership on the two sides of the divide are willing to show the magnanimity of seizing the opportunity and initiating steps towards friendly relations and ultimately a structured dialogue process. Such goodwill moments in the past have been frittered away to suit the hawkish and misplaced egos on both sides, thus harming the interests of peace, friendship and co-operation. The temptation to resort to hawkish jargon and violent hostility on the borders has been more pronounced in recent years, and has phenomenally exacerbated ever since Modi led BJP government assumed power in India. In Pakistan, the different power centres have been quick to reciprocate to this government’s bellicose rhetoric with an echo of their own hawkishness.
The militaristic discourse has not been set to rest even though some brief gains were made between the two prime ministers at Ufa and between the border security forces on the two sides with a more recent agreement on maintaining the sanctity of ceasefire. Both the violent cross firing incidents and the hardened political posturing have continued despite such efforts simply because there is no consistent policy with respect to India-Pakistan relations on both the sides. Belligerence has never resolved issues, anywhere in the world and it would be naïve of anyone on both sides of the divide to foolishly believe that survival hinges on a battle of mudslinging and blame game or even worse, war. Without a hint of doubt, the only way forward for progress, peace and prosperity in South Asian region is through improved India-Pakistan relations, resolution of all disputes including Kashmir. Unless the governments on the two sides do not understand the imperatives of a continuous and structured dialogue, without setting preconditions, sustainable peace in the region would remain in jeopardy. The sooner the leaders on both sides realize this and begin spade work for the essential structured and composite dialogue, the better.
Unfortunately, recent indications and trends do not inspire confidence or optimism. On a recent visit to Kashmir, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi virtually snubbed the chief minister Mufti Mohd. Sayeed for advocating India-Pakistan peace process and a dialogue on Kashmir, and maintained that he did not need advice from anyone on the matters of Kashmir. Such an egoistic stand on a sensitive issue can have a damaging impact on peace in South Asia and on the potential of winning over the confidence of the people and inspiring hope. The damage cannot be undone by handsome economic packages. Such belligerence also inspires vitriolic reaction from Pakistan and this vicious cycle of hawkish posturing must be avoided at all costs. Of late, Pakistan leadership and army have toned down their rhetoric. This should be seized upon by the Indian government as a golden opportunity to renew its policy vis a vis Pakistan and on Kashmir. The Kashmir issue, linked intrinsically to the India-Pakistan dispute is begging for attention and since it is both a cause and consequence of the India-Pakistan dispute, its resolution must begin with a structured and composite dialogue between India and Pakistan. There is a great yearning among people on both sides for peace and friendship. The leadership in New Delhi and Islamabad must step in to fulfill these aspirations. The goodwill gesture at the borders of exchange of sweets, therefore, must be cashed in on before the moment is ignored and allowed to yield to usual exchange of bitterness and acrimony.
News Updated at : Friday, November 13, 2015