A heart-felt plea for India and Pakistan to talk, rather than using the exchange of fire at the border to indulge in a blame-game and tensions that only benefit war mongers
Ahead of the much-awaited August 23 meeting between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan, the two countries are at loggerheads following the fresh spate of ceasefire violations along Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.
Six civilians have been killed in two days as Indian and Pakistani forces are engaged in heavy exchange of fire. As is the case in any military confrontation, civilians have borne the brunt of Indo-Pak hostility. It’s a matter of grave concern and should move any conscientious nation. The human cost of the conflict is more marked in the border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, which have been in the line of fire. The situation on LoC and the International Border has a bearing on the dynamics of the Indo- Pak relations.
Ideally, the two sides should have been busy creating a conducive atmosphere for the NSA-level talks. But as has happened in the past, attempts are being made to derail the much-needed exercise. A handful of vested interests on both sides have been holding the peace-loving people of the two neighboring countries hostage. They always look to keep the pot boiling, and as a result the relations between the two nations are punctuated by fragile reconciliatory initiatives which do not last long.
The ‘trust deficit’ comes in the way of the constructive efforts at resolving outstanding issues. Over the years, terror attacks have made sure that this trust deficit prevails as is evident from the fact that the two countries are still struggling to revive the peace process that was badly hit by Mumbai attacks. Given the familiar pattern of troubled Indo-Pak relations, it doesn’t come as a surprise when the bilateral dialogue, at any level, fails to evoke optimistic response.
The engagements between the two sides have been marked by more endings than beginnings. In other words, there have been more breakdowns than breakthroughs. Even if they succeed in holding a positive round of talks, Indian and Pakistani politicians and diplomats inevitably end up bickering. Instead of using the meetings as a platform for reaching a common ground, they often end up as arenas for scoring points. They have been guilty of frittering away the little gains.
The two countries know what hampers the dialogue process, but have failed to make necessary amends. Lack of political will has been the most daunting challenge to the reconciliation efforts. The exchange of fire on border is followed by blame-game and subsequent suspension of diplomatic ties. The war mongers celebrate every time they succeed in scuttling the peace efforts. The atmosphere of acrimony has prevailed as the peaceniks on both sides are pushed to the corner every time they make clarion call for peace.
The mutual mistrust and the all-pervading threat perception is one of the main reasons that India and Pakistan are not able to properly harness their resources for alleviation of poverty. They have been busy amassing weapons to keep each other in check even as both sides realize it fully well they cannot afford a nuclear war.
In the wake of the fresh border violence, the two governments should not kill the process of re-engagement by indulging in accusations and counter-accusations. The politicians of both the sides should also remain cautious not to kill the process of re-engagement by any uncalled for statement or gesture as has been seen in the past on several such occasions. The two sides should realize moving ahead and engaging each other are in the best interest of both the countries.
Let peace prevail!
– Front page editorial in ‘Rising Kashmir’, Aug 17, 2015, reproduced with permission