In year 1947, India and Pakistan as independent countries freed from the clutches of imperialism were born. Since then India and Pakistan have fought three wars against each other. Both the countries, one way or the other, boast about what they achieved in these wars. In reality there has been no gain and only losses suffered by each of them. Even today, the hostile relations between the two nations make them bleed one another through hundred of cuts.
The hangover of partition still looms large over them, and the unfinished business in the form of Kashmir issue. This has remained the core issue which continues to fuel the animosity between them and that burn the prospects of peace and prosperity for the two countries.
In spite of historical lessons that no conflict has been resolved by fighting wars, the leadership in the two countries have not drawn anything. Even after fighting wars, the parties to the disputes have to return to the dialogue table to resolve them.
While as dialogue should have been the first priority to resolve disputes, they never applied that method or even when they tried they didn’t commit to it. Instead they have shown belligerence and continue with that approach. They have not learned any lesson from the historical blunders they committed over the decades.
Even during the protracted periods of animosity and belligerence, many opportunities to resolve the issues came forth. The Lahore Declaration and Agra Summit were two occasions when it was thought that a consensus has been reached and a roadmap has been worked out to resolve the pending issues and disputes.
Unfortunately, on both the occasions, and some previous occasions as well, the adamant and stubborn attitude of some politicians and people in power didn’t allow that to happen. They felt insecure in case peace and friendship established between the two countries.
Such kind of people and politicians gain relevance only when issues remain unresolved and disputes are flagged to serve their narrow interests. Otherwise, they have no achievement to show to the people.
Now, when a new dispensation under the leadership of cricketer turned politician, Imran Khan, has taken over the reins of the government in Pakistan, it should be viewed as a new opportunity to bring the two countries closer and resolve the issues amicably.
Both the countries should immediately initiate confidence building measures and start an unconditional dialogue process.
As per reports some headway has been made and behind the curtains the preparations for talks are being made, if they have not been made already. It is good news and all the parties and people of the countries should support the governments concerned.
Peace, security and development are desperately needed in the subcontinent so as to deal with the chronic problems of poverty, environmental degradation, food security and to raise the standard of education and health sectors.
Like they say, it is never too late – the two neighbours should bury the hatchet. Indian government with a PM who enjoys unprecedented support in the Parliament and the state legislatures and the Pakistani government under the progressive leader Imran Khan could make a huge difference. They can break the previous trend of failed dialogues and dialogue processes and move towards the serious business of developing a mechanism of resolving all pending disputes and issue.
If North Korea and South Korea can shake hands, there is no reason why the heavyweights of the subcontinent could not do the same instead of knocking out each other.
In the last over seven decades the two countries have turned Kashmir into a conflict zone. They have never thought of making it a zone of peace and cooperation. If they succeed in doing that the Kashmir issue might get resolved by default without compromising the positions of any of the parties to the dispute.
All it takes is political will and sincerity towards moving in the forward direction. The Pakistan side should realize that their military approaches cannot scare India and the Indian side also should acknowledge the fact that Pakistan militarily cannot be defeated without suffering a loss of unprecedented proportions.
The present times under the changed guard in Pakistan and somewhat change attitude in India offers a window of opportunity. If wasted it could push the two countries more towards uncertainty and insecurity. Both Narendra Modi and Imran Khan need to show political maturity and the will to defeat those people with nefarious designs who try to keep the pot boiling.
History of the subcontinent is at the cross roads. It needs wisdom of the rulers of the neighbouring countries in the region to safeguard the security and sustainability.