Containing the disputes

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Dialogue with India

Countries around the world are fed up with war and want to resolve longstanding disputes through peaceful dialogue. In Pakistan’s neighbourhood China and India, which fought a bloody war in 1962 and have yet to resolve border issues, are trying to come closer through enhanced trade and investment hoping that the measures would make it easier to resolve the more complicated matters. On Saturday China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said border dispute with India had been contained and a warm welcome awaits Prime Minister Modi when he makes his first visit to China in a couple of months. Even a superpower like USA is trying to resolve the intricate dispute over Iran’s nuclear program through prolonged talks. President Obama has opposed further sanctions and has decided to continue the parleys despite opposition from Israel and its formidable lobby in Washington.

Pakistan no doubt has a number of serious issues that have to be resolved with India. These include Kashmir, water disputes and territorial contentions. What some in Pakistan fail to realise is that all these cannot be resolved in one go. The Kashmir dispute, which has persisted since the early days of the creation of Pakistan, has turned out to be the most intractable. Among other things required to tackle it is an environment of mutual trust with India, which is absent. This needs to be created through enhanced trade and people to people relations. India has to be accorded the MFN status at the earliest.

The pragmatic way is to start with the easiest issue and as mutual understanding increases take up more complicated matters. One must take up what is presently doable while putting the more knotty issues on the backburner for the time being. While Sartaj Aziz may be right when he says that only comprehensive dialogue can bridge Indo-Pak trust gap, one should proceed towards the ideal by doing what is presently possible. Issues have to be resolved through dialogue irrespective of whether it is comprehensive or not.