A SORT of ‘not war not peace’ describes the India-Pakistan relations. With much of their rivalry emanating over territory of Kashmir, New Delhi and Islamabad have time and again failed to bring permanent peace to the region. The diplomatic relations between the two states have witnessed ‘one step forward and two steps backward’ and over the last few years, it has witnessed lowest diplomatic engagement. Will there be any forward movement between India and Pakistan in near future?
While much of the media and scholarly attention has been given to factors that lead to the disruption of peace between New Delhi and Islamabad like periodic terrorist attacks, cease fire violations and others, hardly any attention has been given on how derogatory political communication at times personal attack is worsening the already deteriorating relation. From the perspectives of those, who think New Delhi and Islamabad can pick threads afresh, these persistent derogatory and hateful remarks that come from the twitter handles of political premiers obstruct the train of peace to take its course. It appears that both India and Pakistan and their respective leaders have failed to develop ‘normal’ working relationships with each other. Along the Indo-Pakistan border, specifically at the Line of Control between Indian held Kashmir and Pakistan-held Kashmir constant border skirmishes have become ‘normalised’ and the sad part is that it does not bother the leadership of Islamabad and New Delhi at all and innocent Kashmiris become prime victims to their nationalistic rhetorics.
Kashmir has remained central to the foreign policy of Pakistan. Islamabad has fought wars and also supported insurgency in the territory of Kashmir. Ever since the Modi government revoked the special status of Kashmir, it has become incumbent for Imran Khan to raise Kashmir issue on all platforms. The revocation of article-370 has brought Kashmir into greater control of New Delhi and it is also going to affect the dynamics of the conflict. As fighting another war on territory of Kashmir seems highly impractical for Islamabad, therefore keeping into consideration the importance of Kashmir issue in Pakistani politics, Imran Khan will continue performing this duty on twitter. Following the suit, the current nationalistic government in New Delhi is bound to counter this narrative as it seeks to do in every other fora, thus further deepening the divide.
As the relations between the countries have been passing though really hard times, descriptions of this kind by the leader of the neighbouring state are bound to further deteriorate the relationship between the two countries. At one level, this kind of an attitude can be traced to the highly populist nature of the two leaders. Khan’s Kashmir tweets apart, concrete attempts have been made by leaders of both the states to cater to the populist demands. In an age when the virtual world is increasingly assuming importance, Twitter is simply being used as another tool of state machinery. The constructive potential of the new-age tools like Twitter notwithstanding, state interests and priorities seem to be coming to the fore yet again, forestalling any chances of a constructive use of such avenues.
Muneeb Yousuf and Zubair Khalid
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