All of us agree that our forefathers, rendering tireless struggles, left us an independent homeland to be proud of. Despite ongoing violence, terrorism and the long-standing energy crisis, Pakistan is ours to clean. Considering the opportunities for development in the region, it is important for Pakistan and India to bury the hatchet and, for once, give peace a chance.
The lack of stability in the region for the last six decades has taken a heavy toll in terms of human development, leaving the majority of people in appalling conditions. Despite being fully cognisant of massive poverty, overpopulation and less-than-satisfactory developments vis-a-vis health, education and infrastructure, countries of the subcontinent have in the past continuously demonstrated a lack of pragmatism, with governments continuing to make policies without considering the ground realities of the region. Apart from the problem of poverty, which requires long-term collective efforts, all other sources of misery can be dealt with, provided India and Pakistan make efforts in earnest.
The recent moves towards regional peace by the leaders of both sides should withstand all attempts at sabotaging stability. Having wasted so many initiatives and opportunities in the past, under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, fortunes of not only Pakistan but the whole region can be changed, provided sincere efforts from the Indian side are accelerated.
This year, amid the continued violations of the ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control by India, our prime minister led from the front and called a spade a spade while addressing the UN General Assembly’s 70thsession. Underlying issues, less talked-about problems, and the bravery and resilience that he showed in a room full of critics calls for applause. The prime minister addressed how cooperation and not conflict should be our weapon of choice. He successfully narrated Pakistan’s resolve that there is no alternative for the two countries but to resume a comprehensive dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
India now needs to formalise and respect Pakistan’s policies and uphold the ceasefire agreement in accordance with international law. India needs to reaffirm that it will not resort to the use, or the threat of using force, under any circumstances, as proposed by the prime minister at the UN. An easing of threat perceptions through such efforts will make it possible for both countries to agree on a broad range of measures to address the perils posed by offensive and advanced weapons systems. Our neighbour should understand that Pakistan’s armed forces, when pushed against the wall, have the capability to successfully withstand some of the most difficult challenges faced by any country, as they are proving by carrying out Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
It is clear that our civil and military leaderships are on the same page to make peace with India and want to give top priority to Kashmir, terrorism and trade when the two sides discuss regional stability in the coming days. In light of our basic national cause, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif has rightly called Kashmir the “jugular vein” of Pakistan, and that the dispute should be resolved in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiris and in line with Security Council resolutions for a lasting peace in the region.
There is no denying the fact that if leaders of the past had focused their approach towards streamlining and resolving major issues, our current generations would have been spared of the mess that we are facing today in context of the India-Pakistan history of bad relations. The outstanding issues ignored since the times of Ayub Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru need to be addressed by premiers of both sides, in an efficient and effective way. The complexity of relations, both geographical and political, needs to be addressed, not only for a prosperous present, but also for future generations.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2015.