Troubling message from Uri

Saturday's firing across Line of Control  in Uri has come as a big setback to peace between India and Pakistan. Like the nineties it has forced the relocation of the residents from their villages along the border. One only hopes the ceasefire violation along the border in Valley doesn't persist and the estranged neighbours return to engagement and dialogue.  This is also a message that the displaced families of Uri have for the central government.  They know the value of peace as they are the ones who bear the brunt of its absence. Residents from several LoC villages  including, Hathlanga, Churanda, Silkote, Tillawari, Mothal, Thajal have been shifted to temporary shelters in Uri town. All of them are in direct line of fire from Pakistan and will continue to suffer if the there is no durable halt to the firing. 

If anything, the worsening situation along the border shows the limits of the muscular policy adopted by New Delhi. Truth is the policy isn't going anywhere. And the past four years of the NDA rule have made the region a fraught place: perhaps, more than ever since early nineties, India and Pakistan look headed for a major confrontation if nothing is done to address the lingering fragile state of their bilateral relationship.

True, the NDA government has contended that even 70 years of the talks with Pakistan have not achieved any desired result, so there is merit in the argument that the engagement would help. While the argument does appear true, it is specious. A dialogue will only succeed when the two sides engage in it meaningfully with an intention to resolve the lingering issues. But in case of India and Pakistan, the issues are so complex and the positions of both the countries are so rigid that each wants a solution on the maximalist terms possible. Result is the continuing hostility between the neighbours. The frequent exchange of firing along the borders in Kashmir and the consequent loss of lives is one of the most visible facets  of it. And it is a tragedy. 

The interstate borders are becoming irrelevant and less significant as a result of the globalization and economic liberalism worldwide.  And not long before, India and Pakistan too were toying with the idea of irrelevant borders in Kashmir. This is what the former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf’s four point proposals were about. These visualised a Kashmir with irrelevant and porous borders. And had Musharraf not exited the scene suddenly as a result of the lawyers’ uprising, the two countries were close to a breakthrough on Kashmir with irrelevant borders its goal. Instead of trying to resurrect the peace  process with Pakistan which could permanently end the conflict in Kashmir and calm the borders,  New Delhi is trying to prolong the conflict by creating more reasons for its continuance.







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