Pakistan retains regional relevance

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India needs to settle the root cause

The Pulwama incident brought the two South Asian nuclear armed neighbours to the brink of war that could have transitioned to a 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 disputes over Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and water issues keep 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 the 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 both countries’ leadership.

Post-Pulwama: Prime Minister Imran Khan offered to 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 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 are 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.

 

War is a dangerous business; it is far more dangerous when countries have nuclear weapons

 

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 proportion, so as to bring two countries to the precipice of war, is irresponsible on the part of Indian media and its political leadership. As Khan 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 bravado, such as “ghus kay maarain gay” (we will intrude and hit).

The 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 to sabotage the conduit made by India on different pretexts. Considering that continued tensions between the two countries have ominous security implications for the region and the world, global powers should encourage a rapprochement between them, addressing each other’s concerns and resuming severed dialogue regime.

Indian political leadership’s public pronouncements to isolate Pakistan diplomatically are a far-fetched 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 USA for bringing an end to Afghan war, leaning of China vis-à-vis CPEC and 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. The 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.

 

By Salaar Khan