By: Asad Hussain
The ever-worsening bilateral relationship of the two archrivals, Pakistan and India, is fast moving towards an unmanageable phase of circumstances. During the recent months, a warlike situation has been witnessed on the Line of Control (LoC) and in India-occupied Kashmir. The two neighbouring states are excessively involved in waging propaganda wars only to defame each other. The hostility and enmity picked up the pace after Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister of India, in 2014.
There is no denying the impression that blame game has remained one of the most significant tools used by the two states against each other to dent other’s reputation in world politics and to achieve one’s own objectives. To quote a few such instances, India holds Pakistan responsible for the incidents of attacks carried out by the indigenous freedom fighters in India-held Kashmir. India also vigorously aired the propaganda to blame Pakistan for the attack on its Parliament (Dec 2001); Mumbai attacks (Nov 2008), Pathankot attack (Jan 2016), the attack on army camp in Nagrota near Jammu city (Nov 2016) and Uri military camp attack (Sep 2017).
To pursue its nefarious agenda against Pakistan, India alleges that groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ul-Dawa and Jaish-e-Muhammad are responsible for these attacks. New Delhi keeps on demanding that the chiefs of these organizations be handed over to India and the ‘terrorists’ caught by Pakistani government for their alleged involvement in Mumbai attacks be hanged, although India has not provided even a single piece of evidence as the case is still pending before the courts of law in Rawalpindi.
On the other hand, Pakistan has concrete proof of Indian involvement in creating unrest in Balochistan and Karachi. The arrest of an Indian national, Kulbhushan Jadhav, is solid evidence which confirms the involvement of Indian intelligence agencies in spreading terror and chaos in Pakistan for which they pour in funds to non-state actors. The recent spate of bloody terrorist attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan is a part of the same story.
The current Indian manoeuvres highlight three important paradigms of strategy adopted by New Delhi.
First, India has demanded punitive measures against the organizations listed above for the resurrection of the dialogue process.
Second, this precondition for holding peace talks is coupled with Indian endeavours to isolate Pakistan internationally and regionally, and to get it declared as a state that sponsors terrorism.
Read More: The Kinks in PAKISTAN-INDIA RELATIONS
Third, with the help and assistance of the United States, India is enhancing its role in the Indian Ocean and Afghanistan, and is dreaming to become a hegemonic power in South Asia by pushing Pakistan to the corner. This will inevitably disturb the balance of power in the region and will also hurt Pakistan’s strategic interests.
Despite New Delhi’s unending chicaneries to let loose a reign of terror in Kashmir, building illegal dams on Pakistan’s waters, denting Pakistan’s reputation, disturbing regional balance of power, exacerbating cross-border terrorism and nefarious media campaigns, as well as skirmishes at the border, Pakistan has always been a staunch supporter of peace talks. Pakistan has always taken initiatives to start trade with India, expand people-to-people contacts and resolving the Kashmir issue – 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 bilateral problems.
Moreover, the country has adopted a very rational stance that if Pakistan finances these organizations, then why it is bearing the most brunt of the disastrous bloodshed they carry out inside the Pakistani territory? According to a recent report, 80,000 civilian and armed forces personnel have been martyred in such attacks. Thus, to further avoid shedding of blood, the two nations must rethink their paradigms of decision making where, at present, the public is suffering a lot.
Let’s take a deep breath and think for a moment: what India and Pakistan have achieved from this decades-long antagonism and hostility? Years have elapsed, but the fighting between the two rivals is exacerbating with each passing day. Despite heavy toll of causalities on both sides, economic burden for defence and 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; they share a common history and, to some extent, a similar culture. The exigencies of time suggest that they should forego their old, useless rivalry and open up hearts to mend ways for the coming times.
Following five measures can be taken to streamline the Pak-India relations:
1. Trade is the most significant component of today’s globalized world. All the developed nations have set aside their regional and international disputes, and have maintained trade relations with other states in order to boost their economic prowess. Likewise, following the precedence, both Pakistan and India must move forward and remove all non-tariff barriers and bureaucratic hurdles that thwart the enhancement of bilateral trade relations. Both the nations must provide nondiscretionary market access to each other. Moreover, improving customs procedure for clearance and cutting down duties on traded commodities can also yield desirable results in improving relations.
2. Second, increasing people-to-people contacts is another very crucial element that can help cement the fragile 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 forget old enmity. To achieve this end, governments of both countries must patronize a travelling regime. Bringing an ease to visa policies, ensuring security of tourists, setting up educational exchange programmes, exchanging artists and professionals, developing shared publications and conducting joint ventures like exhibitions and events will yield positive results for the betterment of relations.
3. Third, both countries are very rich in sports talent. The two states carry the honour to have the best players of most games, e.g. cricket, hockey, kabaddi, tennis, polo, snooker and volleyball. The Pak-India contest really defines the term ‘Sport’ for the entire world. But, unfortunately, they avoid playing against each other. The state machinery needs to arrange such competitions between the teams of two nations so as to erase the feelings of enmity. Taking youth from schools and colleges to participate in different kinds of games can send the waves of change in chronically hostile relations.
4. Fourth, both the countries are in the development phase of their democracies. During this stage, mostly the problems of social nature do arise. Therefore, having a shared social background, both countries are facing almost the similar problems. Then, why not the governments of both states join hands to resolve the issues? Joint efforts against terrorism, extremism, weaponization, human and drug trafficking, child marriages and rape issues must be dealt with an iron hand.
5. Fifth, 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 others from injustice, regardless of the religious sentiment. The intelligentsia of both nations must devise a strategy to lessen the effects of hatred and highlight the stories of living together. 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 sharing joys and sufferings can also be instrumental in this regard.