Indo-Pak stalemate and Kashmir

Abdul Rahman Malik

THE relations between India and Pakistan have always experienced the Low and High degrees with later offering strategic dialogue with full support from the people of Pakistan while the former remained aggressive showing utmost hostility and acrimony due to extremist forces within their country. The arch-rival India has never trusted Pakistan despite assurances and this mistrust has affected their bilateral relations given the existing circumstances. The terrorism is yet another key problem that has crippled the economy of Pakistan as Pakistan has given countless sacrifices by fighting the Afghan war at the behest of America. With extensive relations with the world especially Pakistan’s best friend China, India’s atrocities in Indian occupied Kashmir have been intensified with the passage of time. The use of chemical weapons and widespread human rights violations, defying the UN resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir demanding a plebiscite, the Indian aggression has infinite boundaries. Even Indian nefarious design did not stop here; they are planning to alter the Article 35-A of Indian Constitution to change the status of the State of Kashmir in a bid to change the disputed status of the territory. The Indian Supreme Court is hearing the case. The constitutional provision of article 35-A does not allow people from outside the state to buy or own immovable property, seeking permanent residence, avail any state-funded scholarships or get the government jobs. Historically, the Article 35-A was added by a Presidential Order to Article 370, in 1954 that applied the independent status to the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The application argued that the above-mentioned articles were discriminatory towards the citizens from the rest of India. The Chairman Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Chief Minister of State of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti has warned the Indian Government that any tinkering with the aforesaid articles will result igniting violence in the territory that will be beyond the control of the security agencies. The people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir also condemned this move and demanded from the world community to intervene and exert pressure on India to refrain from such tampering with the said provision of the Indian Constitution. Pakistan has always fought a defensive war be it 1965, 1971 the fall of Dhaka, Kargil war and the subsequent heated war of words and the indiscriminate firing incidents on the Line of Control from the Indian side, resulting in the loss of civilians lives. Though Pakistan retaliates strongly yet Indians are the first to offend and harming the peace process . The Political leadership remained divided over building close relations with India to maintain peace in the region. Both PPP and PML-N tried to have close relations with India and start the strategic dialogue with India and signed confidence-building measures. PPP government remained close to Rajiv and Indira Gandhi’s Indian National Congress Government while PML-N leadership maintained close relations with BJP. Though the two countries started peace talks at Foreign Secretary level but given strong the pressure from militant or extremist forces, it was always India which cancelled the peace talks at the eleventh hour giving no solid reasons of such cancellation or rolling up dialogue process.
The great nations always settle their disputes through negotiation table as wars always bring misery to people and the destruction that takes years to rebuild the country’s infrastructure. It is ironic that the enmity as has also gripped the cricket and the fans are disappointed due to the refusal of India playing the series with Pakistan within India and Pakistan or at the neutral venue such as the UAE. The Prime Minister of Pakistan had envisaged his vibrant and robust foreign policy during victory speech that he intended to maintain relations with the world such as Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arab, US and India on the equality basis and even offered India to come forward by one step, he will go forward two steps to start the dialogue on the core issues. The talks at Foreign Minister level between the two countries were announced at UNGA but abruptly cancelled by India succumbing to internal pressure given the upcoming general election of India likely in May 2019. Imran Khan lashed out India of being arrogant over the cancellation of talks at Foreign Minister-level.
The ruling BJP eyes the 2019 general election and thus intended to create hype with their strong stance against Pakistan by cancelling the peace talks in order to get support from Indian people to win general elections 2019 and regain the Government for another term. Well, India needs to change its attitude and should immediately start the dialogue to address the issues and find out peaceful solutions to the problem including the Kashmir issue by taking the Kashmiri leadership on board. CPEC is a game changer for Pakistan and the region. The positive outcome of the peace talks may pave the way for India to benefit from the CPEC by joining CPEC as Partner. CPEC can be made secure if we have peace with the neighbours such as India and Afghanistan and stability in Afghanistan is in favour of Pakistan. Let peace have a chance, let’s learn to live like good neighbours sharing our experiences and developing resources and promoting trade through people-to-people contacts. To pave the way for talks, India has to take initiatives such as ending atrocities in Kashmir, demilitarizing it and involving Kashmiri leadership to find out a peaceful solution that may be acceptable to people of Jammu and Kashmir. Let the people of Kashmir decide their future. Pakistan is ready to hold consequential talks and the Indian positive response is awaited to bid adieu to this long acrimony that has hampered peace process and bilateral trade ties between two strong nuclear powers. The SAARC forum can be instrumental for the countries to include SAARC member countries in CPEC provided that India does not backtrack from the peace process.
— The writer is freelance columnist, based in Sindh.

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