Sunday March 25, 2018
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Indo-Pak talks: Why dialogues are the only way forward


We live in a world where nations clutch on to detonators that can destroy the whole planet multiple times. One rogue state, one wrong move and humanity will have no one to cry. Nations like Pakistan and India where people die of hunger, poverty and even cold, are allotting thousands of crores of rupees on their defence budgets.

And why?

Why should a friend of mine, who chose a career in Indian Army, wither away in Siachen where minimum temperature touches as low as -40°C when there is no such need? Why does someone have to guard the boundaries all the time and take a bullet on his chest? What is the use of billions of dollars being pumped into defence deals to buy jets and submarines?

All because we fear each other as a nation. One nation where people are unsure of surviving a bomb blast as they step out to buy vegetables; and another which despite having the youngest human resource struggles to provide basic necessities to all its populace.

How can killing people in the name of your country be the solution? Yet, in the present world, guarding the borders is a reality. It is another reality that a nation must be able to step up to the plate when the ‘need’ arises.

India and Pakistan have had a history of wars; we commemorate our martyrs every year. The brave Indian soldier could have very well retired with his grandchildren and live a happy life with his spouse holding hands, fading into the sunsets of their lives. But a bullet, a shrapnel, a bomb got better of him. There are grandchildren in the houses but no grandpa to tell the stories from Kashmir, a heaven on the Earth.

Those wars were conventional in nature with armies fighting each other at the border. Now, Pakistan is using terrorism as a state policy to destabilise Indian security apparatus. The only reason we are not in tatters like Pakistan is that we have a bigger area and robust economy. Otherwise, we can look at Pakistan, a people once like us, now battling out Shia-Sunni troubles, Taliban’s internal terror attacks and an always volatile political system remote controlled by the Pak army and ISI.

Given the number of nuclear warheads Pakistan has, it is no one’s guess that a country with nothing to lose won’t hesitate to use them if pushed to a corner. That situation won’t be good for India, or for that matter humanity.

That’s precisely why, even with Pakistan engaging with third parties like Hurriyat and others, India must not leave the path of talks. Talks are the only way to minimise damage to each of the struggling nations. Both of us have many issues to tackle and going to war shouldn’t be one of them.

Dialogues are needed not just for the sake of international diplomacy but to protect ourselves. There is no doubt that soldiers are killed almost on weekly basis, but a war wouldn’t ensure that there would be no casualty in future. It never did.

With each passing day, even smaller nations are acquiring arms at an astounding pace just to assert their position. Given the history of Pakistan, with a completely unstable democracy that it has turned itself into, ruled by the diktat or army and ISI, unless it comes to senses, India cannot take the risk.

India, irrespective of what Pakistan does or doesn’t do, has to follow the path of talks. Because, in a war, it will be us who will lose more because we have a sense of belonging. Pakistan wouldn’t think twice before going all out if that situation comes.

Therefore, other than putting international pressure on the rogue nation, India must engage with dialogues rather than going for a war as, “war isn’t a solution, it’s a problem”, said famous poet Sahir Ludhiyanavi:

जंग तो ख़ुद ही एक मसला है
जंग क्या मसलों का हल देगी?
आग और ख़ून आज बख्शेगी
भूख और एहतयाज कल देगी!

इसलिए ऐ शरीफ इंसानों ,
जंग टलती है तो बेहतर है!
आप और हम सभी के आँगन में,
शमा जलती रहे तो बेहतर है!

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Window for India-Pak talks should remain open


According to a Pakistan daily here in Islamabad on Tuesday, India and Pakistan ought to keep the window open with the foreign secretaries meeting this month according to the new schedule so that “peace can win over terrorism”.

The editorial of a News International said that it was a “well-established reality that there are elements on both sides of the Indo-Pak border that will go to any length to prevent peace between the two countries”.

“It is essential these elements not be permitted to succeed, and this can happen only if the leaders of the South Asian neighbors refuse to allow their tactics to work,” it said.

“It is unfortunate then to see that the Pathankot attack has once more led to a crisis of trust, with New Delhi reverting quickly to some of the hostility and acrimonies we have seen in the past.”

The historic suspect among the two countries appeared to ease only after the separate visit of Sushma Swaraj, External affairs minister of India and then by the brief visit of prime minister Narendra Modi over the past few weeks.

“But it appears now that the bridges built are creaking again. While Pakistan had appeared to act on evidence from India by arresting the leader of the Jaish-e-Muhammad, blamed by New Delhi for the attacks, along with 20 other activists, it seems more is required.”

“These measures may, to some degree, have salvaged matters. But they have not completely blocked a new wave of hostility,” it added.

It said that the acrimony directed across the border by India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is unsettling.

“Parrikar, responsible last year too for some highly offensive comments, has warned the ‘consequences will be seen’ in a year if Pakistan does not show action.”

“Permission has also been denied to the Pakistan SIT team to visit Pathankot, leaving it to ponder the option of visiting New Delhi, the line favoured by India, or else seek more evidence to be dispatched to it.”

It also said that India has denied travel documents to Hurriyat leaders and social activists who had hoped to visit Pakistan this week for a Kashmir Conference – which has now been cancelled.

“New laser fences, which act like radars, are also to be installed by the Indian BSF.

“But for now, windows should remain open. They must be kept ajar, with the foreign secretaries meeting this month as per a new schedule so that peace can win over terrorism,” it added.(IANS)

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