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Is ‘SCO’ a failure in persuading India-Pakistan for dialogue?

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BY: Mudasir Wani

The Arrogance of India and Pakistan has always been a great threat to the regional peace and stability in Asia. The international community’s routine call for India-Pakistan dialogue is not only misguided but also counterproductive. The security competition between the two nations is actually driven by discrete and negotiable differences but the accord is rooted in long standing ideological, territorial and political antagonism.

Expectations from the SCO summit are always high. Days after India ruled out a meeting between Prime Minister Narender Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, China had tried to play facilitator and suggested that India should reciprocate Khan’s peace missive and enter into dialogue suspended since January 2016. Pakistan’s active attitude underlines its vision to strive for peace and prosperity in south Asia to lay the ground work for the two countries to figure a benign way out. If India wants to show out its intent to combat terrorism and promote its rise in the sub-continent. P.M Modi should not nearly express his gratitude for Khan’s good wishes but take pragmatic action’s to recover the bi-lateral dialogue process, promote better relations with Pakistan and work to establish peace in the region. P.M Modi and P.M Imran Khan could have a “spontaneous” interaction on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit held recently in Bishek Kyrgyzstan Amidst new peace overtures from PTI Govt. , the Indian external ministry made it clear to Pakistan before couple of days that onus for sustained peace in south Asia   was on it by putting the terror groups out of business. It is possible that with the lens of India –Pakistan issues extricated, SCO could be given a reset keeping in mind the potential trade between the two rival countries that currently remains Appallingly low. Just to put things in perspective, SCO members are possibly the poor connected group of nations that are part of neighborhoods multilateral process. People from India can’t fly directly over Pakistan and people from Pakistan cannot directly fly over India. Even basic citizen – to -citizen connections have failed to bloom between the two countries.

India And Pakistan spend heavy diplomatic capital on each other, the reasons for which are obvious. Global times however, suggested that P.M Modi’s second term is a good chance for India, if he can grasp the chance and restrain nationalist sentiment to improve ties with Pakistan at SCO summit, which would seemingly highlight the issues of terrorism and national security faced by all involved members. It would be significant progress for two countries and for the stability and development of the sub-continent. Even before the summit started In Bishkek Kyrgyzstan, almost all the attention was already focused on what will transpire between the two countries which are experiencing diplomatic cold spells. This is not new conundrum for all multilateral forums, in fact all multilateral forums suffer from agenda biases of the politically and economically strong.

India had agreed to talks after the Prime Minister of Pakistan had written a letter to Modi to restart the bilateral talks on key issues “Challenging The Relationship” after which the meeting between the foreign ministers of two countries had been the first such high level engagement since the suspension of dialogue between the two countries after the Pathankot airbase terror attack in 2016. The Pakistani prime Minister had offered the peace talks, thrice, with a quote that “Friendship is in the benefit of both the countries, Friends can be changed but not neighbors. We will not take the pressure of any world power”. Khan had also said that neighbors need to resolve their conflicts and the best way  to alleviate poverty and uplift the people of sub-continent is to resolve our differences through dialogue and start trading. Unfortunately New Delhi remained always stubborn and arrogant over the peace offers of Pakistani P.M Imran Khan, after that he tweeted “I am disappointed over India’s arrogant and negative response to his offer of peace,” New Delhi decided to call off the meeting of foreign ministers of both the countries in New York in 2018. In his repeated attempts after P.M Modi’s victory in 2019 lok sabha elections, Khan wrote to Modi renewing his offer to work together for durable peace and stability in the sub-continent, aimed at promoting a peaceful neighborhood. The letter was seen as Islamabad’s keen approach towards bringing New Delhi to the dialogue table, a process stalled and suspended since January 2016 , but unfortunately India could not respond.

Modi raised the issue of cross border terrorism emanating from Pakistan during his talks with Chinese President XI Jinping and said India expected concrete action by Islamabad to create an atmosphere free of terror for the resumption of dialogue.  In response to it, Khan reiterated that Pakistan condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including state terrorism against people under illegal occupation. We are among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism at a heavy cost to our soldiers and to our population. Pakistan remains ready to share its experience and expertise to counter terrorism, we also remain actively engage in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) counter terrorism initiatives.

It is the most burning need for both India and Pakistan to sit on negotiation table to solve issues for the sake of peace and prosperity in the region.

The Author is Socio-Political Activist, presently serving as Vice-President at Jammu and Kashmir student’s welfare Organization. [email protected]


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