Things never looked so bright. Suddenly, there is a feel that the atmosphere is changing. Things are moving, and although they are moving at their own pace, at least they are moving in right direction. Really, things were never so bright, not even in the days of Vajpayee’s Lahore visit. May be this is just another bubble, blown by the politicians (if we can call Musharaff a politician) of both the sides and it might bust but I am happy that for the first time, the confidence building measures or CBMs are working in favour of comman man of the valley. They are meeting their long lost relatives on the other side of Kashmir. I saw on television, a brother from POK meeting his sister in the Indian side of Kashmir after 57 years! Compare it to the fact that I am craving to meet my family and its only been 6 months!
There are a variety of reasons for this change of heart from both the sides. First, I firmly believe that up gradation of both the nations to the nuclear powers acted as THE MOST important deterrent to keep them away from a war or a war like situation.
Second, both the countries realized that engaging into a military warfare is just not a solution to the Kashmir problem. It only leads to a huge burden on economy and a ‘stick’ from the US. Although it took a “Kargil” and an “Operation Parakram” for them to realize this.
Third, Pakistan realized that breeding, training & promoting militants is becoming more and more unacceptable throughout the globe. Gone are the days when the militants used to execute the directions issued by the military of Pakistan. Now, Pakistan military are working under pressure of US and Musharaff is bravely trying to put up a mask of “messiah against terrorism”. Pakistan realized that the hardliners and the militants are not playing in the hands of Pakistan military anymore and they are freely taking their own decisions.
Fourth, they realized that good relations between the two countries are as favorable for India as they are for Pakistan. India is taking fast strides to make its mark in on the globe. Its on the verge of securing a permanent seat in UN Security Council which will automatically stamp India’s authority in the world. On the other hand, a war or a proxy war with Pakistan will jeopardize its chances beyond repair. Similarly for Pakistan, good relations with India will not only convert into good trade ties with India, which in turn will fuse life into its nearly dead economy but also establish it as a liberal Islamic state, a tag for which Musharaff is vying for so long.
Now the question is where to go from here? A start has already been made and a good start is equivalent to half job done. Still there are a lot of areas where we can move.
1. Discourage the use of army from both the sides to solve any issue, as both are equipped with nuclear warheads and the deadliest of weapons. They should work towards de-militarizing the siachin glaciar. Really its ridiculous to maintain army from both sides at such a high cost and inhuman conditions.
2. Trade and social ties should be encouraged beyond vision. Bring the people from both the sides closer. Nobody and no issue (not even Kashmir) can create the rift between the nations if there are no differences among the folks.
3. Political talks should never be stopped (and yes, its ridiculous to sever cricketing ties even at the neutral venues!). They are the only means and the platform the discuss core issues. CBMs will continue at their own pace but the hard and ‘out of the box’ decisions have to taken on the table only.
4. The concept of ‘soft border’ should be given a thought and implemented, if worth. More road and rail routes should be opened. Cultural ties and social ties should be encouraged.
These are just the few of many steps which will consolidate the relationship between the two countries. I personally feel that because of its bad ties with Pakistan, India is 10 years behind from where it could have been and for Pakistan, it has been much worse. It could not even start! Its high time that the politicians, hardliners and the comman man from both the sides realize this and move forward this peace process which many experts are terming as “irreversible”. I just hope that they are right.
PS: This article has not come out the way I was expecting it to be. I have skipped many points and left some issues untouched. I hope to discuss them in comments column.