Let sanity prevail

Even in the darkest hours of relations between India and Pakistan, a ray of hope that one day sanity will prevail will not perhaps elude us. There are many sensible persons in both the countries that are almost on the same wavelength as far as bilateral relations are concerned. True, their voice is subdued under the shrill din of emotionalism.
The consoling factor is that democracy is going to get stabilized in Pakistan and extremist opinions will have to iron out their angularities. As this process has come to stay only belatedly, it will take some time before a broad consensus of how to peacefully resolve our outstanding issues is built. Evidently in the beginning only short steps will be proposed and as the process gains momentum, we could move at faster speed.
A 14-member delegation of Sind (Pakistan) journalists has arrived in Mumbai on the invitation of their counterparts in India. The visit reciprocates goodwill mission visit of the Indian journalists earlier to Karachi. We consider these goodwill missions as blocks that will build mutual confidence to carry forward the task of negotiating a peace deal between the two. The visiting team has put its finger on the right spot while reflecting on Indo-Pak relations. Two countries are spending billions of dollars on purchase of weapons from western suppliers. All that enormous money which should have gone for economic and social development of their people goes to the coffers of multi-billionaire arms manufacturing companies in the west. Millions of people in both countries yearn for a bucketful of drinking water. Millions of people in both the countries yearn for an electric lamp, and millions of people in both countries are uncertain of a square meal. With the amount they spend for arms they could, when invested properly, increase the income at least two-fold. They have spent billions of dollars on producing nuclear bomb and continue to spend on maintenance of this demon of death and destruction. Where are they going to throw the bomb? Who will be decimated? They know the answer but they have no courage and confidence to reverse the course of things and choose the path of sanity.
The leader of visiting Pakistani team of journalists has made a very sensible proposition in the context of straightening Indo-Pak relations and taking maximum mileage out of present conducive atmosphere. He has proposed that two issues of Kashmir and Siachin, the real bone of contention between the two countries, be kept outside the panorama of negotiations for the time being while other minor issues are addressed step by step. Once progress is witnessed in resolving other issues, it will automatically lead to building a strong confidence structure which will enable them to take up the two pending issues in a spirit of cordiality and sincerity.
It is interesting to note that while several options of addressing Indo-Pak logjam have been regularly under discussion, it has also been suggested by some quarters that a ten/twenty year moratorium be imposed on Kashmir issue so that tempers on both sides cool down and harsh realities of ground situation become comprehensible to the stakeholders. That would also give face saving exit to both the countries from their traditional stand on Kashmir. Keeping in mind that during long decades of search for an acceptable solution of Kashmir issue no closeness on an agreed formula could be possible, the situation would remain the same for another half a century. Neither of the countries is in a position to wrest the other half of the state territory through force of arms. The Indian Parliamentary resolution 1994 on Kashmir remains de facto paper work. Likewise the proxy war unleashed by Pakistan in Kashmir has not only failed but become vibrantly counter-productive. Today entire Pakistani civil society is faced with its Frankenstein. In terms of economy though India is doing slightly better than Pakistan yet none of them has been able to eradicate poverty, illiteracy, destitution and backwardness from their respective populations.
Putting Kashmir and Siachin on the backburner for a considerable period of time will, in the first instance, prompt the two countries to conserve their foreign exchange reserves for utilization in developmental activity and give a boost to respective economies. Thus the dollars that go into the coffers of weapon supplying cartels will be utilized for the emancipation of the poor in these two South Asian countries. An atmosphere of peace and mutual trust will give strong impetus to bilateral trade, technological cooperation and socio-cultural exchanges. Opening of borders, easing visa regimes, exchange of academics, intellectuals and artists, joint seminars and conferences, and calibrated cooperation on various international issues of common interest will gradually put the two countries on recognized international diplomatic platform. Together they form one-fourth of world population. Together they are one of the major human resource reservoirs in the world and also a vast engine of resource development. Together, they can produce hydroelectric power that meets their full requirements and even will have surplus to export. This then could be the scenario likely to emerge in South Asia in case the two counties are disposed to put moratorium on more volatile issues of Kashmir and Siachin.


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