Talk they will have to …
For the past couple of years almost on every single day we have seen India and Pakistan accuse each-other of ceasefire violations along the Indo-Pak international border as well as the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. While India accuses Pakistan of resorting to firing and mortar shelling in order to “facilitate infiltration by militants” to this side, Pakistan counters saying India is the aggressor who resorts to unprovoked firing on its forward positions and territories every now and then. Obviously in this maze of claims and counter-claims, accusations and counter-blames, it is very difficult to ascertain the truth. However, one thing that needs no confirmation is that the borders between the two countries in Jammu and Kashmir have remained far from being calm.
Now that the two countries have after a long while agreed on something – Kartarpur corridor for instance — the polarized Indo-Pak relations have once again become a staple for the debates which are beamed into people’s homes every night by various television channels. Now whether people are really interested in these debates or not, but these television channels are surely stoking tensions and belligerence and this is what they are doing without any fail to grab a share of higher TRPs.
Although the recent indications suggest that the two nuclear-powers are, after all, not so averse to talking to each-other as they seemingly make it out to be, but given the fragility of their engagements and past track-records, one is not sure if there can be any real headway in the relationship between the two countries unless and until their respective politics and media too are tuned to peace frequency. Given the fact that when it comes to the issues between the two countries, the leadership in both tend to be more emotional than rational so as not to annoy their respective constituencies, it goes without saying that the causes and reasons for pessimism easily outweigh those for optimism and hope.
With looming dangers within and outside of the governments in both countries, from the spoilers who do not want to see them living in peace, it will, therefore, be the magnanimity of the two states to initiate and then save their delicate engagements from mutual allegations and mistrust. Unfortunately as of now, neither New Delhi nor Islamabad seem to possess the required intellectual capital to think beyond their immediate and narrow political considerations for the larger goal of peace and stability in South Asia and progress and welfare of its people.
Today countries and communities world-over prefer peace to reap the economic harvests that enhance growth, development and influence of a country. In peace only could the general well-being of the people thought of in a planned manner and executed speedily to remove the blemishes of poverty, illiteracy, starvation from the face of otherwise resourceful countries. Plagued by all the ills of developmental lag, India and Pakistan need to give themselves a chance wherein instead of looking at and spending resources for territorial security they are able to concentrate on food and health security of their people. Once the two neighbours are calm and peaceful, then only can they take on the challenges of poverty and illiteracy and ensure better opportunities of growth and development of over one-sixth of the global population.
While every other region of the subcontinent will definitely win from constructive and meaningful Indo-Pak engagement, its benefits for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the actual victims of the confrontationist and belligerent attitude of the two countries, could only be imagined. Those who want to keep people of this Himalayan state reeling under cycles of renewed violence use different tactics to subvert every possibility of meaningful engagement. Not only is the future of 13 million Kashmiris held hostage to talks between India and Pakistan but the future of over 1200 million people of the two countries too is at stake. At a time when other countries seek help to develop infrastructure through the assistance of developed countries, India and Pakistan waste their resources to show down one another. The possession of nuclear capability has instilled a false ego in both countries which blurs their vision to see the mass poverty, illiteracy and other vices sapping their vitality.
In Jammu and Kashmir, continued violence has badly affected all spheres of life; the sense of security has long vanished and identified and killers are having a field-day here. The social fabric has degenerated to an extent wherein suicide has become an alternative to compromise; gap between the haves and have-nots has increased alarmingly giving false impression of growth and development which actually betrays reality. If the Kashmir imbroglio is resolved through peaceful means it will benefit one and all. For it India-Pak dialogue process needs to be resumed, and then undertaken honestly and purposefully.