Streamlining India-Pakistan relationship

The ever worsening bilateral relationship between the two arch rivals: India and Pakistan are moving towards unmanageable phase of circumstances. Being in the state of peace, a war-like situation has been seen on the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. The two states are excessively indulged in extending propaganda war to defame each other internationally. The hostility and enmity has picked up the pace after Modi took the affairs of Indian Prime Minister since 2014.
There is no denying the impression that blame game has remained one of the most significant weapons used by the two states against each other to dent the reputation in world politics and to achieve one’s own nefarious objectives. To quote few such instances, India holds Pakistan responsible for the incidents and terrorist attacks in Indian held Kashmir. India always vigorously aired Pakistan responsible for the terrorist attack on Parliament of India (Dec 2001), Mumbai attacks (Nov 2008), the Pathankot attack (Jan 2016), the attack on the Uri military camp (Sept 2017), and the attack on army camp in Nagrota near Jammu city (Nov 2016).
To pursue it further, India has remained fierce vocalist for the alleged involvement of Laskhar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-Ud-Dawa and Jaish-e-Muhammad for conducting attacks mentioned above. The New Delhi has demanded that the chiefs of these organizations should be handed over to Indian and the alleged terrorists caught by Pakistani government after Mumbai attacks must be hanged whose case is still lingering in Rawalpindi courts.
In the same manner, Pakistan has also drawn out proven Indian involvement in Balochistan and Karachi. The arrest of Kulbushan Jhadav from Chabahar confirmed that Indian intelligence agencies are indulged in spreading terror and chaos and funding non-state actors to yield irregularities in Pakistan. The recent bloodiest wave of terrorist attacks in KPK and Balochistan is the part of the same story. India is conducting these designs only to disrupt the smooth democratic transition in Pakistan and to interrupt general elections of 2018.
The current Indian maneuvers highlight three important paradigms of New Delhi’s strategy. First, India has demanded punitive measures against the organizations listed above for the reopening of the door of dialogue. Secondly, this pre-condition for holding the peace talks is coupled with Indian endeavors to isolate Pakistan internationally and regionally and to get it declared as a terrorist state by the toothless UN and the mighty US. Thirdly, with the help and assistance of the US, India is increasing its role in the Indian Ocean and Afghanistan and becoming Asian power by pushing Pakistan in the back burner. This will surely disturb the balance of power in the region and will hurt Pakistan’s strategic interests.
Despite New Delhi’s filthy maneuvers to launch reign of terror in Kashmir, building illegal dams on Pakistan’s water, giving a dent to Pakistan’s reputation, disturbing regional balance of power, exacerbating cross-border terrorism, media campaigns and other border related skirmishes, Pakistan has always been a staunch vocalist of peace talks. Pakistan has always taken initiative to start trade with India, expand societal relations and resolving the Kashmir issues; a bone of contention and a historical baggage for the two states. Therefore, it would be desirable if India adopts the same approach towards resolving these problems.
Moreover, Pakistan has adopted very rational stance that if Pakistan has been financing these organizations than why Pakistan is bearing the most disastrous bloodshed? According to a report, 80,000 civilian and arms forces personals have been martyred under these attacks. Thus, to further avoid shedding of blood, the two nations must rethink their paradigms of decision making where the public is suffering a lot.
Let’s take a deep breath and think, what Indian and Pakistan have achieved from this decades long antagonism and hostility? Years have been passed, but the fighting between the two rivals is exacerbating with the each passing day with vigor. Despite heavy toll of causalities on both sides, economic burden for defense keeping, mobilization of army, switching global alliances for power show have been done by the aforementioned states but nothing have been achieved except losses.
The two countries started their journey together, share common history and to some extent carry similar culture. The exigencies of time suggest that they should forgo their old useless rivalry and open up hearts to revamp their approach and mend their ways for upcoming times.
Following five measures can be adopted to streamline the fragile relations:
Firstly, Trade is the most significant component of a globalized world. All the developed nations have set-aside their regional and international disputes and maintained their trade relations with other states to enhance their economic strength. Likewise following up the precedence, Pakistan and India must move forward in this relation and should remove all non-tariff barriers and bureaucratic hurdles to enhance trade relations. Both the nations must provide non-discretionary market access to each other. Moreover, improving customs procedure for clearance and cutting down duties on traded commodities can yield desirable results in improving relations.
Secondly, increasing people to people contact is the crucial element to cement the frail relations between Pakistan and India. The forces of bigotry and extremism are loud on each side. Therefore, to counter the increasing hatred, misconceptions and stereotyping, people must interact with each other and forgetting old enmity. To achieve this end, governments of both the countries must facilitate the traveling regime. Bringing an ease to visa policies, ensuring security of tourists, setting up educational exchange programs, exchanging artists and professionals, developing shared publications and conducting joint ventures of exhibition and events can yield positive results for the betterment of the relations.
Thirdly, the countries are very rich in the talent of sports. The two states carry the honor to have the best players of most games such as cricket, hockey, kabaddi, tennis, polo, snooker and volleyball. The Pak-India contest defines the term ‘sport’ for the entire world. But, unfortunately, they avoid indulging in contests with each other. The state machinery needs to initiates the games competition between the two nations to bring a halt for feelings of enmity. Taking youth from academics, schools and colleges to participate in different kinds of games can send the waves of change in hostile relations.
Fourthly, both the countries in the development phase of their nascent democracies. In this stage mostly problems occurs of social nature. Therefore, having the shared social background, both countries are facing the similar problems. Then why not the civil bodies and governments of both states join hands together to rout-out the issues? The joint efforts against terrorism, extremism, weaponization, human and drug trafficking, child marriages and rape issues can be dealt iron handed.
Fifthly, there is another strong harbinger of change, that is, we must begin telling our young one’s the story of partition where men, women and children saved one and other from injustice regardless of the regional affiliation and religious sentiment. The intelligentsia of both nations must devise a strategy to lessen the effects of hatred and highlight the stories of living together for the histories. They are not the enemies and shared culture and consciousness. Moreover, adding chapters of love between the two nations in the curricula, making films which depict the love of the people in tough times and writing stories of joys and suffering together.

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Quetta. He can be reached at: Asadhussainma@yahoo.com

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