Pakistan-India relations: Prospects and challenges | By Wg Cdr Jamal Abdul Nasir (R)

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Pakistan-India relations: Prospects and challenges

PAKISTAN and India have strained political ties, especially over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which was split between the two in 1947 as a result of disputed Redcliff Award.

Since then, they have fought three wars and had several skirmishes along their tense border.

On February 25, 2021, in a joint statement, the Directors General of Military Operations of India and Pakistan agreed to strict observance of all agreements, and understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control (LoC) and all other sectors with effect from midnight 24/25 Feb 2021.

This represented significant progress toward achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the border in the light of the record number of ceasefire violations (CFVs) in the years prior.

People living along the line of Control and other parts of the border are now enjoying a good time, as there have been no ceasefire violations reported since the ceasefire agreement came into effect.

It was seen first time in 18 years that no single bullet was fired along the international border.

Otherwise, both sides frequently used artillery, mortars, and small arms at the LoC. According to the ISPR, the media wing of the Pakistan military, there have been 2340 ceasefire violations made by Indian troops in 2020, which were too high in number since 2003.

In February 2022, Indian Army Chief General Naravane stated that the ceasefire agreement on the LoC was holding because India had negotiated from a “position of strength”.

The statement was later rejected by Pakistan. The military spokesperson termed the claim as “clearly misleading”.

He said the ceasefire was agreed “only due to Pakistan’s concerns for the safety of people of Kashmir living on both sides of the LoC”.

“No side should misconstrue it as their strength or other’s weakness. ” The ceasefire agreement has brought normalcy to the life of the people living across the border.

It will also end the dangers of confrontation and hostilities on the India-Pakistan border.

In the wake of the successful ceasefire implementation, now both countries can re-establish their full diplomatic relations which were downgraded by Pakistan after India’s illegal abrogation of article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

Prospects of trade between two neighbouring states are re-emerging. Whereas peace is prevailing at the borders between India and Pakistan.

Both countries are engaged in the exchange of allegations for sponsoring militancy and proxies activities.

Thus distrust between the two neighbouring states continued. On 19 November 2022, while addressing a counter-terrorism summit in New Delhi S Jaishankar, the Indian Minister for External Affairs, in a veiled attack on Pakistan and China said that it is important that all states collectively follow an undifferentiated and undiluted approach to terrorism.

Terror is terror, and no political spin can ever justify it. Pakistan accuses India of patronizing state terrorism commonly known as “Saffron Terrorism” against minorities living in India.

Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations (UN), Munir Akram stated that India is resorting to state terrorism and global counter-terrorism efforts have failed to curb this type of terrorism.

Moreover, Pakistan in December 2022 shared a dossier containing evidence of India’s state-sponsored terrorism against Pakistan with the Islamabad-based diplomatic corps, including envoys from permanent -5 (P-5) members of the UN Security Council, and urged the international community to hold India accountable for its crimes.

Recently, Pakistan’s Interior Minister accused India of being behind a bombing in 2021 near the house of Hafiz Saeed, the founder of a militant Islamist group blamed for a deadly 2008 attack in Mumbai.

He further stated that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism unit had recently arrested several members of a cell after finding clues to their involvement in the 2021 suicide attack.

He said India’s intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had backed the group. The population living in India and Pakistan is almost one-fourth of the world’s population.

According to the World Bank’s latest statistics, the GDP per capita income of India is about 2277$ which is less than countries like Malaysia, Mexico, and Taiwan.

Whereas the GDP per capita income of Pakistan is 1600$ which is less than countries like Senegal and Kenya. Both countries have a large segment of their population comprising young people.

In Pakistan, 64% of the population is aged less than 30 years. Pakistan is considered to be the fifth largest young country in the world.

India is also ranked as one of the youngest population countries. It is imperative that both countries should reconsider their destabilizing policies.

The recent surge of right-wing activities known as Saffron terrorism are not only threatening minorities living in India but also destabilizing regional peace.

Proxy activities such as the terrorist attack in Lahore last year are also immensely detrimental to peace in South Asia.

Pakistan has time and again denounced sponsoring terrorism as state policy and has already taken significant measures against militant groups.

Nevertheless, Pakistan might carry out a joint investigation with India to persecute those who were involved in the Mumbai attacks of November 2008.

The peaceful co-existence of India and Pakistan is not only beneficial for South Asia but it would significantly contribute towards global peace and prosperity.

—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.