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EDITORIAL: The truth or correctness of good wishes exchanged between prime ministers of India and Pakistan on latter’s election will only be established at some time in the future. But even when these fit the definition of routine – because Narendra Modi had sent good wishes to Imran Khan upon his elected victory only to snuff out Kashmiris’ autonomy a year later – it would be unfair to consign the move to dustbin of history.

As if waiting for electoral victory of Shehbaz Sharif his Indian counterpart lost no time in tweeting his felicitation and then followed it up by sending a letter expressing desire for peace and stability “in a region free of terror”. Prime Minister Shehbaz replied, conveying similar hope but conditioned its viability to “resolution of all outstanding disputes including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir”.

But the differences this time is the New Delhi’s positive response to Pakistan’s standing invitation for bilateral talks, as Modi called for “constructive engagement” and Shehbaz Sharif’s expressed desire for “meaningful engagement”. Of course, Modi has not missed asking for a “region free of terror” and Shehbaz mentioned Kashmir as the core issue to be peacefully resolved through talks.

Nobody expects that the two countries are going to give up on their stated positions anytime soon but what sounds positive about this exchange of good wishes is possibility of resumption of bilateral talks. In not too distant past the two countries did talk to each other, and without any meaningful breakthrough, but the kind of tension which has come to obtain between them now was not there – particularly since coming into full play the RSS programme to turn India into a Hindu rashtra.

Not that RSS has given up on its programme as not a day passes when Hindtuva mobs don’t attack Muslims, lynch them and burn their homes and places of worship. But there are also a couple of ground realities that have come to force the Modi government to rethink its plans and programmes. And the one of them that has clearly and emphatically asked Indian leadership is US State Department which has released a report highlighting major human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings by government agents, violence against Muslims and killings by government and non-government forces in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K).

As a colony the Indian Subcontinent was the “goose that laid golden eggs”. But that is no more the case; it is now host to a billion and half people with quite a big chunk of them living below the poverty line. Its inter-state rivalries and disputes has stagnated its economic growth and in there poverty rules supreme.

But if this exchange of greetings between prime ministers of Pakistan and India is any indication, howsoever feeble, it seems at a strong realization has dawned on them that for them war is no option. Both Pakistan and India are nuclear-weapon states, an equation which rules out wider conflict between them.

As for the border skirmishes they do cost human lives but bring no war victory to any one of them – though they do present mischief of triggering a nuclear conflict. So why not to stop these skirmishes and talk of peaceful coexistence. It is one’s earnest hope that the leaderships of the two countries will move beyond the congratulatory greetings and set the table for talks.

Let the past be past, and no more a drag on way to initiate what was once called the “comprehensive dialogue”, and can be the agenda for bilateral talks. Should that be the case it is New Delhi which has to make the first move, that is, an end to all of its brutal activities in (IIOJ&K). At the same time the Modi government should ensure security of Muslims in India and sanctity of their socio-cultural and religious values. And now as Islamabad is talking of transiting from geostrategic to geo-economics-oriented foreign policy it would be an opportunity for both neighbours to activate their potentialities to engage in bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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F Nawaz Apr 24, 2022 04:53pm
Flood our markets with cheap defective indian goods. Go ahead you sellout.
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