Beyond Photo Ops: India-Pak Need Paradigm Shift

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KO Analysis

SRINAGAR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif are slated to address a peacekeeping summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on September 28, the only event where their schedules overlap in the US. The two leaders may or may not meet but regardless of whether they do, it will in all likelihood be only for photo-ops. And it will be another insignificant photo-op shorn of any significance and import. The relationship between  India and Pakistan-the two arch rivals- corresponds to a pattern and a loop that is familiar: talks, violence, snapping of ties and talks, a lull , talks and then the same pattern repeats itself. The two nations are caught in a warp that goes beyond time and space in the sense that they are locked in conflict which is frozen but at the same time does not lend itself to resolution given the staggering pace and scope of developments elsewhere.

There is an irony to the potential meeting between two leaders at the UNGA summit; both are slated to address a peacekeeping summit. The two leaders will trot out clichés and bylines for the media, perhaps shake hands and then head home. The idea of peace between their respective countries will be far off the radar of the two. Another irony is that they would be addressing the UN body; a body that has overtime become and morphed into more a talk shop than anything else. The United Nations has neither lived up to its promise nor does it reflect the international relations and power dynamics of the world today. In this sense, the body is an outdated in broad disconnect with the contemporary world’s realities. While the dispute over Kashmir hinges around UN Resolutions and these are the peg around which a large section of Kashmiris generally hinge their aspirations around and these also constitute the peg around which Pakistan makes its case, but the prosaic reality is that , in the final analysis, it is power and power politics that ultimately arbitrates conflicts like the Kashmir one. This may not be ideal or even prudent but it is the reality. India, as the status quo power knows this and Pakistan, as the irredentist power  realizes it. However, both latch on to their respective positions which leads to an impasse the consequences of which spill on over to Kashmir and its hapless peoples. The way out of this impasse lies in a prudent reassessment of the respective stances of the two countries and settling for win win solutions in a world and context where dated paradigms are increasingly becoming passé. It is the realization of these paradigmatic shifts that may help arrive at a solution that redounds to the benefit of all stakeholders to and of Kashmir. Will this be forthcoming? Unlikely. In the subcontinent, history is not made by men; history makes them.

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