The Pakistan-India relationship saga has taken a decidedly positive direction in recent months, despite the highly unfortunate attack on the airbase in Pathankot and the shenanigans of some in India over the matter of the Pakistani cricket team’s trip to that country for the World Twenty20. Following the Pathankot incident, it was feared that any progress made up to that point would be lost as has happened several times before following terror attacks. However, thanks to the restraint shown by both governments, the incident and its aftermath was handled in a largely thoughtful manner. Pakistan is attempting to proffer the Indians support in investigation of the Pathankot incident and as announced by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj after themeeting in Nepal on March 17 with Sartaj Aziz, a Pakistani Joint Investigation Team will be visiting India on March 27 for the purpose.
The meeting between Ms Swaraj and Mr Aziz signifies the air of understanding and mutual cooperation, which now appears to be enveloping Pakistan-India relations and is a welcome change from decades of mistrust and negativity plaguing the region. A stalemate between the two countries on several key issues has prevented the development of what could have been an extremely beneficial relationship for both. Shadows of past conflicts, unresolved disputes and continual bitterness on both sides have withheld the kind of peaceful relationship, which, if allowed to exist, could save a lot of trouble and money for all involved.
However, it must be remembered that the relationship between the two neighbours has been soured by real and deep-running conflicts, centering around Kashmir, cross-border terrorism and a myriad of other issues. Furthermore, although the current peace process has so far managed to survive one terrorist incident, it is likely that more efforts will be undertaken to derail the process by those whose vested interests rely heavily on conflict between the two countries continuing. In order to avoid a repeat of previous experiences, Pakistan and India must maintain their present attitude of restraint and extend support through actions as well as words. There has to be an effort towards avoiding the spouting of negative rhetoric against the other. Only then can it be truly possible to resolve all differences in a comprehensive manner.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2016.