Despite a roller-coaster ride between the two nuclear neigbouring states, Pakistan and India must bury the chronic contentions which have been decaying their relations for the last seven decades.
Undoubtedly, at present, relations are at stalemate because our neigbouring geographical giant is in the hands of hardliners and hegemonic right winged, anti-minorities, anti-Muslims, and anti-Pakistan — the BJP. Surprisingly, sincere efforts were made by a true Atal Bihari Vajpayee — Indian former Prime Minister from the BJP — who wrote musings in the quest of better Pakistan-India relations at the dawn of this millennium. Nawaz Sharif then Prime Minister also resolutely reciprocated. However, hate mongers on both sides tuned up relations back to the old symphonies.
India needs to stop the wild goose chase, while holding hostile, historic sentiments against Pakistan for today’s synchronized and moving relations. Lately, Islamabad has gone extra miles to call for repeated dialogues which are no less than an embarrassment now. Meanwhile, India is blatantly abjuring the adherence of the Simla Agreement and of the composite dialogues: that it will bilaterally establish peace by finding quick fixes to the issues. For sanity to prevail, truth has to be given a nod to extricate from the current tailspin between both countries. Pakistan has also has to consider Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) incumbent to move forward with the peace process, whereas India winks at the Kashmir issue, and instead tags terrorism as the real cause of halt in the dialogue process.
Indian occupied Kashmir remains unresolved which surely holds both atomic powers at dilly-dallying situation for decades. First thing first, India must stop taking the mince out of Kashmiris; Pakistan did not start the recent uprising in Kashmir and cannot stop it either. In the current insurgency, about 30000 Kashmiris have been injured, maimed or bruised in the state sponsored terrorism.
The more New Delhi grinds down the suppressed Kashmiris, the more azadi (freedom) slogans will zap against Indian defiance. Similar thoughts were presented by the renowned Indian historian, Rajmohan Gandhi — the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi — in The Economic Times last year in September: He said that a de facto plebiscite already seemed to have taken place there. Kashmiris appeared to have voted with untiring throats, with eyes destroyed or deformed by pellets, and with bodies willing to fall to the ground for what the heart desires. And the vote seems to be for azadi.
Yashwant Sinha, a former Indian foreign minister from the BJP, also believes that “Kashmiris have lost their fear of India.” Subduing IoK from the peace talks will not be a workable solution both for Pakistan and India. India should accept IoK as a political problem in the first place, otherwise South Asia’s gridlock would remain in a limbo for years to come.
On the other side, terrorism is not a major irritant between Pakistan and India, as it is an external conspiracy and not the cause of standstill between both. In the 1970s, India first entrenched to ignite the separatist movements against Pakistan.
Islamabad never shied away from talking about terrorism with New Delhi, but compromise on eroding IoK and other core issues drag the current state at sixes and sevens. Pakistan has garnered untold lessons from its mistakes of Islamic extremism and buried the concept of ‘strategic depth’ to anchor peace in the region. Also, Afghanistan could have become a bridge of peace between both countries, but India’s proxy with the former against Pakistan can turn the whole region into a terrible turmoil.
Moreover, improved India-US relations under the guise of civil nuclear deal of 2005, to contain China, could have negative repercussions to the regional stability. As a result, major players like China and Russia are busy in fostering new blocks in the region to avoid any further ferment upfront.
Nonetheless, amidst the prevailing tense situation between Pakistan and India, constructive cooperation in the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC) can carry the seeds of immense potential for both to change their fortunes. Economic trajectory of CPEC can certainly knit South Asia, Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Afghanistan and Iran are also dreaming to partake in CEPC and more interestingly the quite rise of Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka would likely boost and get benefit from this game changer project, too.
Historic opportunities are on offer for both countries, as economic transition is taking place from the west to the east. It is high time to rid from hysteric world of Pak-India hostility as tri-star economic chain of Pakistan, India and China, can surely stoke tangible prosperity to South Asia and beyond. Regional guild must harbuor some sanity; India’s opposition of SAARC surely creates hiccups in the South Asian regional cohesion and connection.
On a positive note, India accepted the reality of ‘cold start doctrine’, only, when Pakistan balanced the equation with the response of ‘small nuclear tactical weapons’. For sure, these are not the feats of matter of pride for both, as it leads to proliferation of arms race in the region. For smooth and soaring relations, both states need to come out of such competing conundrums to bring prosperity to the existing nations and the generations to follow.
On the political front, since the 1990’s, India’s hatred based politics has never remained part of electoral campaigns in Pakistan. Unfortunately, in India, major political parties — mostly the RSS’ offshoots — still harp high on anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim bashing in their political advocacies. India should wake up to the reality that hatred based politics will only help in expanding the distance and fuel the fire to the current situation amongst the two.
Finally, for peace to make inroads between Pakistan and India, back channel diplomacy must be restored. The media, think tanks, people centric dialogues coupled with reciprocal utilization of prudence and political acumen can lead to a peaceful and welcome settlement of issues between both. It is now a breathing reality to India and to the rest of the world that Pakistan is a non-collapsible state, and thus cannot be failed, frailed or fractured by the external flirtations of state and non state actors. Packed with natural resources and human capital, Pakistan is likely aiming to re-incarnate its aspiration of becoming an ‘Asian tiger’.
Yasir Masood works as a Literary Editor in the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), with expertise in political, diplomatic, and security issues. He writes for The Express Tribune and has remained on a visiting faculty at NDU and QAU, Islamabad. He is a post-graduate in International Relations from Kingston University, London.
(Photo Credit: Indian Express)