United in confrontation

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India, Pakistan confrontation at United Nations has played out like broken record. Staying true to a long established tradition, the neighbours traded charges and counter-charges. Speaking first, Pakistan foreign minister highlighted India’s alleged brutalities in Kashmir and made a strong pitch for the implementation of the United Nations resolutions on the state. In response, India called Pakistan a “Terroristan”. The foreign minister Sushma Swaraj who spoke afterwards called Pakistan the exporter of terrorism. Rubbing it in further, Swaraj urged Pakistan to introspect as to how it was that while India created IITs, IIMs and AIIMS, Pakistan had produced Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Haqqani Network and Hizbul Mujahideen. “We (India) produced scholars, doctors, engineers. What have you produced? You have produced terrorists,” Swaraj said in her speech in chaste Hindi.

Exercising the right to reply, Pakistan departed from the tradition by fielding its top diplomat Maleeha Modhi to take on Swaraj. She called India “the mother of terrorism in South Asia”. She said if the international community wishes to avoid a dangerous escalation between India and Pakistan, “it must call on India to halt its provocations and aggressive actions”.  More provocatively for India, Lodhi waved a picture of an apparent pellet victim and termed it “the face of India”.  However, the picture, according to some media reports, was that of a Palestinian victim. But for Pakistan and also for the people in Valley it didn’t detract from the truth of the hundreds of the full and partial blindings of the protesters last year.   According to the figures, the vision of around 1100 youth was impaired by the indiscriminate use of pellet guns, many of them losing it completely.

However, the issue here was about the continuing unremitting hostility between India and Pakistan and how it has rendered bleak any chance of peace in South Asia. In a sense, their hostility at UN reflects the consistent failure of the two countries to resolve their issues bilaterally. With conflicting ideas of nationhood at the root of their founding, the two nations have taken divergent trajectories to nation-building, which in turn have only further drifted them apart. In the context of India and Pakistan, the primary challenge for the two countries is to live like normal neighbours which is something they have been unable to do over the past six decades. In fact, as the recent border skirmishes have once again underlined the two countries remain farthest from even confronting sanely their issues or handle their respective truths. Even sometimes a small incident brings into play a complex play of history, memory and prejudice. Things have gotten only worse over the years with even a statement by a politician in one country exposing raw nerve endings in another country. There is now so much vitriol against each other in a substantial section of public life of the both countries – with media playing a role in fanning it – that it seems unnatural that the two countries could ever be friends. Best thing that can happen to India and Pakistan under the circumstance is for them to learn to deal with their troubled relationship with a degree of care, maturity and understanding.

 

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