Dialogue is a must
Former chief minister of J&K, Omar Abdullah’s statement that any proper dialogue between India and Pakistan would have to wait to be realised at the end of India’s general election in May 2019 sounds logical. The NDA government is in election gear and whatever it does in remaining six months of its tenure will be more vote centric and thus any talk about dialogue with Pakistan doesn’t fall in the scheme of things. The BJP leadership has built an anti-Pakistan narrative to such a level that, as rightly pointed out by Abdullah, there is no chance of any Indo-Pak engagement. The Pakistan also realizes this fact and it was in this backdrop that Pak prime minister, Imran Khan, the other day remarked that he will again extend the hand of friendship to India once the general elections in the country are over and a new government is in the office. The very reality that the two neighbouring countries use their respective elections to demonise each other is the main reason of worsening relations between the two. Politicians on either side of the divide only promote hatred and animosity among the masses against each other and that is the reason that both countries have failed to build strong peace constituencies within their domains.
The unfortunate part of the whole thing is that while the politicians on either side are grabbing votes by propagating hatred against each other, the people in Jammu and Kashmir continue to remain worst sufferers of this animosity. Hundreds and thousands have lost their lives in length and breadth of Jammu and Kashmir. People continue to live under the fear of gun, no matter to which country the gun belongs to. There is no sense of security and no dignity of human lives and ordinary people are suffering with no hope of any resolution. Yes, politicians of India and Pakistan have the luxury of continuing the confrontation but people of Jammu and Kashmir don’t have at all because this confrontation impacts their life and limb.
In this backdrop, there is a strong urge among the majority of people in Jammu and Kashmir that there should be some sort of engagement between the two neighbouring countries. History stands witness that whenever the countries have sat around a table, situation has normalized and the Jammu and Kashmir state has witnessed comparative calm. Therefore the New Delhi, if it cares a bit about the people of Jammu and Kashmir, will have to engage with Pakistan. Elections or no elections, the two countries need to keep the communication lines open. That said, Pakistan, as suggested by Omar Abdullah Pakistan will also have to take India’s concerns on board. It has to do some soul searching and do some corrections vis-à-vis its policies towards India. As rightly said by former prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, one can change friends but not neighbours. Geography has tied the two countries together and therefore both have no option but to end the confrontation and do every bit possible to normalize the situation. Normal relations between these two countries would not only ensure peace in Jammu and Kashmir but will go a long way in helping the economies of the two countries.