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Pakistan retains regional relevance

Salaar Khan
THE Pulwama incident brought the two South Asian nuclear armed neighbours to the brink of war that could have transcended to nuclear holocaust. Alarming as it was, global powers jumped into the fray for de-escalation. India has a history of perpetual belligerence; it has imposed wars, started numerous skirmishes and instigated several escalations during the last 71 years. The dispute over Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and water issues keeps the two giants in the whirlwind of bellicosity. It is time that the world at large and both countries in particular glean a few lessons from the recent standoff, which is yet not over, to avoid future spectre of nuclear holocaust, resulting from a potential Pakistan-India war. The irritants between these two countries need to be identified and addressed through statesmanship by the leadership.
Post-Pulwama: Prime Minister Imran Khan offered India to discuss terrorism, asserting that Pakistan itself is the victim of this scourge and it is continuing its fight against the menace including the crackdown on the banned organizations. He considers that such non state actors can retard the positive trajectory, which Pakistan has embarked upon; besides, such elements cast shadows on otherwise commendable progress that its security forces have made against Pakistan-specific terrorist outfits. India on its part needs to stop atrocities against the innocent Kashmiris, which is increasingly resulting in disillusionment among the Kashmiri people – an obvious outcome of Indian repression. The international community has to realize the gravity of the situation and must not ignore this simmering dispute.
Another international concern should be the instant pace with which a terrorist incident in India can spiral into a threat of war, and its likely fallout on the region and beyond. Fanning it out of proportions, so as to bring two countries to the precipice of war, is irresponsible on part of Indian media and its political leadership. As Premier Imran alluded that India was contemplating a missile attack on night February 27, the upper notches of escalation ladder may precede the lower ones in hostilities. Such are the perils of conflict between these two nations, which can only be precluded through a sense of restraint and willingness to engage for solution of the bilateral grievances. Ironically, the leadership of India became victim of its own bravados, such as “ghus kay marain gay” (we will intrude and hit).
Indian refusal to engage in any meaningful dialogue with Pakistan has only added to the complexities between the two countries. Even the regional forum of SAARC could not be tapped to engage due to the attempts of sabotaging the conduit made by India on different pretexts. Considering that continued tension between the two countries has ominous security implications for the region and the world, global powers should encourage a rapprochement between the two, addressing each other’s concerns and resuming severed dialogue regime.
Indian political leadership’s public pronouncements to isolate Pakistan diplomatically, are a farfetched dream. Recent regional developments bring out that Pakistan retains its regional relevance, due to its geostrategic location, significant role in wooing Taliban to negotiate with the US for bringing an end to Afghan war, leaning of China vis-à-vis CPEC and Pakistan’s courtship with Gulf countries. Such objectives set by India for itself, will only serve to further vitiate already tense Pakistan-India relations.
War is a dangerous business; it is far more dangerous when countries have nuclear weapons. Indian public and its media need to realize this fact; the world also needs to embrace this stark reality. Any situation of such an extreme can only be averted if India comes to the terms of removing the bilateral irritants. Easier said than done, it will take a high degree of statesmanship as well as shared will to enter an era of progress and prosperity.