After an almost three weeks of tense stand-off including tit for tat aerial strikes, India and Pakistan are gradually moving towards de-escalation. The past two days have seen the tension between them winding down. Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has stated this much in his Wednesday’s interaction with the media personnel in Islamabad. He thanked the US, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the other countries for working behind the scenes to defuse the crisis. Now, Pakistan has decided to send its high commissioner to India back to New Delhi. Pakistan’s already scheduled visit to India to sign the agreement on Kartarpur corridor is going ahead. Pakistan is also open to the resumption of weekly contact between military officials. Islamabad has also frozen assets of all UN designated organisations like JuD, FIF and taken into custody the brother in law and son of the Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar.
These are positive developments. On Indian side, the government has continued to maintain a tough stance towards Islamabad. In fact, in his speeches, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given little indication that India has called off further action against the militant groups in Pakistan. But there are enough signs that the tension between the neighbours is now on way to wind down. And it’s important that it does.
A prospect of a war between two nuclear armed countries is too scary to even imagine. So, apart from the ongoing salutary efforts by India and Pakistan to tide over the current crisis, it is critical that the world also plays its due role. The coordinated international effort to defuse the current tension shouldn’t be stopped with the things returning to normal. The next war between the two countries is just one heavy-casualty militant attack away. And that time the neighbours may be less amenable to international pressure. The international community, especially the great powers thus need to remain engaged with India and Pakistan and get them to resolve their issues through a sustained dialogue. Also, while terrorism certainly needs to be eradicated, it is equally important that the issues and grievances that encourage terrorism are also dealt with. So, India and Pakistan needed to be goaded to acknowledge and confront their demons. And one such overarching demon is the issue of Kashmir. If this issue is resolved, it will remove one of the most major causes that is stoking violence not only on Kashmir but also in the mainland India and Pakistan.