India, Pak drifting apart

Far from helping India, Pakistan come together, the evolving geo-politics of south Asia is drifting them further apart.  And it is apparent from the kind of statements being issued from the two capitals.  The Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir has threatened to take back Pakistan Administered Kashmir saying that no power on earth can stop India from doing so. Similarly Pakistan’s chairman of Joint Chief of Staff Committee in Pakistan General Zubair Mehmud Hayat, has blamed the Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing for sabotaging the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. He said India was stoking chaos and anarchy in the region and that RAW had established a special cell at a cost of $500 million to sabotage the CPEC. 

The statements reveal a further hardening of the positions of the two countries. They also underline fundamental differences in how the two countries seek to approach each other. Speaking at ASEAN, the Prime  Minister Narendra Modi sought to build up pressure on Pakistan and insisted that North Korea’s proliferation links ought to be investigated and the parties who supported such “unlawful programmes” be made accountable. Though Modi didn’t name Pakistan, his speech was meant to coalesce ASEAN opinion against the militant groups operating out of Pakistan. 

The relations between the two countries have only gone downhill since the Pathankot attack which followed shortly after Modi’s impromptu visit to Lahore on December 25. Pakistan’s probe into the attack has gone nowhere. And after the arrest of a former Indian Navy officer Kulbushan Jadhav in Balochistan, the distrust between the neighbours has become too deep-rooted to go away by a few rounds of the unproductive dialogue on the sidelines of the international events.  For that the two countries have to address the issues that have divided them  since Partition. And this is not easy to do. 

The deep distrust and the entrenched animosity have ensured that the issues have remained unresolved.  Talks have invariably been followed by the violence and the consequent break-up in the engagement. This has meant that no process of dialogue has been taken to its logical conclusion. This dismal state of affairs has been repeated so often that the people in both countries have grown cynical of any prospect of progress in the relations of the two countries. Here is hoping that the reported international facilitation leads to something positive and the two countries get back to dialogue. However, getting back to dialogue will hardly be enough. It will again be prone to suspension if intervened by yet another attack. For it to be successful, a renewed engagement between the countries has to be immune to the efforts of the actors out to disrupt it. It has to be an uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue. And finally any dialogue should strive to reach its desired end in the acceptable resolution of all issues between the neighbours including Kashmir.







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