Saturday, October 2

Peace stands a chance!

If the Indian PM gives his consent to one proposal, that is not final till his old buddies nod.

By Aamer Waqas Ghaus Chaudhary

The Indian Government has again shown its interest to resolving the outstanding contentious issues with Pakistan. This has come at a point when the US is bit reluctant to go ahead in their anti-terrorism campaign and attacking any country. Moreover, a democratic government has started gaining ground in Pakistan and the system seems to be working well. One of the things, which Pakistani powers-that-be need to do, is that they should not let the Indian government use this opportunity for their own gains. Secondly, we should use this chance to show the world that Kashmir is an indigenous movement, which India claims to be otherwise. Last but not least, we should be swept away by the emotions of friendship – our interests should be of prime importance.
Will the hawkish (obvious to all) cronies let Vajpayee to carry his offer to a logical conclusion? Importantly, if the Indian PM gives his consent to one proposal, that is not final till his old buddies nod. This thing is agitating Indians and Pakistanis minds. Last time when President Musharraf visited India, these Indian ministers sabotaged the final declaration apart from bringing old wounds to surface through their intriguing statements. One of them Yashwant Sinha tried to bring Pakistan at an equal ground with Iraq – ‘making it a fit case for pre-emptive strikes’. Fernandes wanted to finish Pakistan. Such things can again undermine the much-awaited peace process and initiatives to improve relationship between Islamabad and Delhi.
Indian deputy PM Advani is again attaching a frivolous pre-condition of so-called cross border terrorism. This is how the breakthrough at Agra was damaged in the intervening period between the conclusion of Vajpayee-Musharraf talks and the signing of the joint statement by them. Advani's role may not be different should there be some positive development. He never misses an opportunity to attach pre-conditions to vitiate the atmosphere. Under the present circumstances, it seems that India is deliberately sending confusing and contradictory signals. This is where our foreign office should play an exemplary role and defeat the negative propaganda not only of the Indian leaders, but of the media too.
One of the things Pakistan needs to consider is that why India is so eager to go ahead with the peace process which was otherwise a far-fetched idea to the Indian government a few months back. Is it due to the American pressure or the economic gains which India might gain while opening borders with Pakistan? Its unilateral decision to open air, road and rail links with Pakistan becomes a tangible proof to latter idea. Does it originate from the realisation of failure of all-out efforts for Pakistan’s isolation in the comity of nations? It was a successful foreign policy of Pakistan, which has kept India at bay and Pakistan as a front-line ally in the world’s anti-terrorism campaign. India’s belligerent pursuits in south Asia have failed miserably. It has incurred colossal financial burden while keeping its armed forces on high alert. They definitely gained nothing. The fact is India has been unable to check the freedom fighters' operations in high security zones in Indian occupied Kashmir. India should keep this mind that if (a big IF) there is a cross-border terrorism, then their huge army should have been able to stop it. And if they cannot do so, then they should improve their professional qualities.
Any step, that has the potential to lead to peace and stability in the region, is a welcome development. It is time for the two south Asian nuclear rivals to abandon confrontation and seek peace to devote themselves to ameliorte the lot of their masses. But one of the basic difficulties is the Indian psyche of not accepting Pakistan as an independent state since its inception. They should identify their pitfalls and then talk of contentious issues. India has to learn about a peaceful co-existence with its neighbours, especially Pakistan. They should now stop dreaming of 'Akhand Bharat'. Its military arrogance would keep on generating tension and confrontation in south Asia till its leadership makes a strong commitment to peace in the region. The world has now realised that India is the only country which cause war in the region which can engulf the whole world.
Definitely Kashmir is the bone of contention between the two countries. India has never entertained its international commitments and promises to Kashmiris. Under these circumstances, India is itself a fit case for war. Obviously, the West is least interested in fulfilling moral obligations and the theory of realpolitick is the basic principle of maintaining diplomatic relationships. This should be a guideline for the Pakistani power-that-be and we need not to come under any moral obligations. That was perfectly demonstrated by President Musharraf when he went to India for the Agra Summit. Bus and cricket diplomacies can work well only when our self-interests are no where in sight when Pakistan and its people are being given priority.
We have some definite aims and priorities in front of us. The same is applicable to India. On the contrary, there will never be durable peace, which the two countries are apparently seeking at the US initiative and support. Peace hinges on the settlement of the Kashmir issue in keeping with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution. One has to find out some middle way to bring peace. It is too early to speculate about the modalities of the dialogue, yet any attempt to ignore the aspirations of Kashmiris will yield no positive results. Irrespective of the denial by India and Pakistan about US pressure, Washington is deeply involved in facilitating the process for initiation of dialogue between the two countries. The frequency of the US officials' visits to the region and the nature of their deliberations with the Indian and Pakistani leaders are sufficient to belie the claim to the contrary. However, the solution lies in the two countries' willingness to make concessions and to hold sustained and meaningful talks.
I think that Pakistan has never lost its ground and it is clear to India as well. Despite pressures of all sorts, the Pakistani government since October 12 has never given any undue concessions to India despite adverse circumstances and continued Indian belligerence. Bus-diplomacy-episode is not recorded by the present regime and we are living more respectably in the world. The future talks would only be successful if India shows flexibility and its hawkish leadership talks sense; otherwise it would be another futile exercise.

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