Time to unstick

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In real terms there has been almost no change, at least not for the better, in relations between India and Pakistan for the last 20 years — and they have been in virtual cold storage since the attacks in Mumbai. The last three years have been particularly bumpy, and the hopes that came with a seeming warming of relations between new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have faded. The only way forwards is dialogue, it is as simple, and as complicated, as that. Neither country either wants or can afford to go to war. War ceased to be an option long ago, and the sterile stalemate on the Siachen glacier and the fruitless lobbing of artillery rounds across the Line of Control serves nothing beyond military egos and a rudderless political agenda.

Dialogue was to the fore in an address made by Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz. He was making the keynote address to a conference on security trends in the Asia-Pacific region at the National Defence University in Islamabad. He spoke of the need to evolve a “new paradigm of peaceful co-existence” that was of benefit to all and to the detriment of none. We support this wholeheartedly, and have made it clear on these pages that our support for the resumption of dialogue is unwavering. But newspapers do not determine foreign policy, and for anything to change in this deadlocked relationship then the politicians on both sides, as well as the military machine in both countries, has to want to and then do the things that enable confidence to be built. India and Pakistan have both wasted opportunities as things stand, hamstrung by their own implacability when it comes to conflict-resolution. The poisoned relationship taints everything around us — both countries — and has been a brake on development at every level, human and material. The recent ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative by China is a golden opportunity for Pakistan to truly move forward, and not only Pakistan but all the countries that abut and are in the same neighbourhood. Time has run out for the ‘Going Nowhere’ option. It is time for change.– The Express Tribune

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