The fight for peace

  • Over the years what we have done to our subcontinent?

In this era of enhanced communication, integration and rapid economic development, the world is evolving into more peaceful, prosperous and affluent place. Over the last few decades, we have witnessed how mediocre economic structures have transformed and ascended into elite global economies.

Being at heart of South Asia, if we look at our backyard, Asia Pacific states have grown into booming economies of the world with China acting as engine of growth for the entire world. China remains the largest contributor to the world’s economy. With a GDP totaling $13.28 trillion in 2018, China is the second world economy after United States of America. China’s per capita consumer spending has increased by 6.2 percent year on year in real terms to reach $ 2,877 in 2018.

Despite suffering badly in World War-II, Japan is also rising on the world economic front. With a GDP worth $4872.14 billion in 2017, Japan is transcending into a huge economic powerhouse. Korea is not behind too. The quantum leap forward of South Korea over the past few decades could be gauged by the fact that its GDP was recorded $1.655 trillion last year. This phenomenal growth reflects the will and resolve of South Korean nation despite security threats from North Korea.

Now let’s turn to the affluent western world. After centuries of infighting and wars, Latin and South American states decided to depart from their past disputes and conflicts and joined hands to form regional and trans-regional economic amalgamation.

North American states signed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and created world’s largest free trade area of 450 million people. Through NAFTA, the economies of the United States, Canada, and Mexico were integrated.

As of 2017, the US economy stood at $19.49 trillion; Canada at $1.77 trillion; and Mexico at $2.46 trillion. NAFTA’s trade area produces more than the 28 countries in the European Union. It brought to life an economic powerhouse of $23.72 trillion in gross domestic product.

My mother lost her entire family in racism-provoked violence during during partition

A few decades back, European states, who had seen centuries of inter-state and border conflicts, also decided to form a political and economic union of 28 member-states called European Union (EU). The EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished and a monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

But over the years what we have done to our subcontinent? Once a center of world trade, the subcontinent was known as goldmine of the world – due to its riches and geostrategic location. With a civilisation of over 5,000 years and a population of around 1.5 billion people, South Asia lags far behind in terms of Human Development Index (HDI) and per capita income.

With maximum number of children out of school and poor sanitation and health facilities, South Asia is suffering due to border disputes left unresolved by the colonial rulers and our leaders have failed to resolve issues.

However, things were changing over the past decade. While International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its report last year ranked India as number-one emerging market among world’s top 25 economies. India is the world’s fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). With $2.948 trillion GDP, India is set to challenge China.

There are positive signals for Pakistan too. IMF report also designated Pakistan as number-three emerging economy of the world. With a GDP of $305 billion dollars in Year 2017, Pakistan is set to emerge on the global economic map.

However, it seems during past few weeks, India and Pakistan are drifting away from their respective economic agendas in wake of the events taking place following Pulwama incident in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Today, both the neighbours are at daggers drawn and any miscalculation or misunderstanding may trigger another war between the two emerging economies and nuclear-capable neighbours. Events are fast taking place amid border skirmishes and downing of two Indian air force jets by Pakistan air force.

I am writing this piece as a concerned citizen of South Asia. I better know how humanity suffers at hands of violence. My mother lost her entire family in racism-provoked violence during during partition of India and Pakistan and hence I know the pain she has gone through her entire life.

I can understand how much it pains when you lose any loved one. I get into tears whenever I see blood. I have seen bloodbath in India Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and I also went through the same agony when I saw coffins taken to India after Pulwama attack. I fail to comprehend what makes people kill and maim fellow human beings in the name of caste, creed and religion.

Recent events have pushed the two countries to a war-like situation which may plunge the entire region to a nuclear clash. US experts recently opined that any clash between the two nuclear-armed nations may lead the entire world to total annihilation through direct and indirect impact of any nuclear strike.

Leaders emerge out of crisis situations. Prime Minister Imran Khan has ascended on global arena as a peacemaker. From day-one, Prime Minister Khan’s handling of the situation and steps taken to diffuse tensions reflected his vision, wisdom and yearning for peace. The unconditional and swift release of captured Indian pilot, Abhinandan, reflects the compassion and humane nature of Imran Khan.

However, it seems Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is more focused on the upcoming elections and he plans to play hate card against Pakistan to win the polls. Elections are normally fought on peace, development and government’s performance. It, however, seems as if hatred against Pakistan is being pushed to win polls.

Following the release of the Indian pilot and a failure of the Indian government to reciprocate Pakistan’s goodwill gesture, I am happy to see that the social media is rife with calls for peace from the people of both India and Pakistan. It is heartening to note that after the failure of Indian regime to respond to the peace overture from Pakistan, Indians themselves have decided to bat for peace. They have rejected the hate mongering Indian media and extremist leaders for peace and tranquility and this is a good news for peace in the region and beyond.

It is now upto the people of India to take their fate into their own hands. They have to decide whether they would keep igniting this fire with hate and extremism which can eat away the entire region and may also negatively impact the world populace. As Prime Minister Imran Khan said, wars are started with a plan but once started, war decides its dimensions itself. War itself is an issue, so it can’t resolve any issue at all. Since dialogue is the only way forward, let’s join the yearning for peace  by Prime Minister Imran Khan.