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Do not miss the opportunity

By SHABBIR AARIZ

It appears that God is not yet disappointed with one and a half billion human population of the sub-continent as even after the war almost broken out between the two nuclear neighbours, some effort of silencing the guns is felt after the prime minister Imran Khan held out an olive branch by announcing the release and return of the captured wing commander, Abhinandan of India following a combat operation the other day. First timer, Imran Khan as prime minister has behaved quite responsibly that is going to stand him in a good stead among the community of nations as certainly his stance will not go un noticed. At the same time, he has put his Indian counterpart to the test and one should hope that the gesture is appropriately reciprocated by the Indian side. A serious engagement between the two countries is imperative for resolution of all disputes including the vexed Kashmir problem. Both the countries necessarily have to behave responsibly as these are not ordinary states in view of both being nuclear and owe it not only to the people of the sub-continent but to the south Asian region and the world as such. It is high time that the realities are recognized and heeded accordingly without giving in to jingoistic commentators of irresponsible media houses that create false and fake narratives and fictionalize the events. It will also not be out of place to say that greater damage to peace has been done by the people engaged in crafting messages in support of specific but petty goals. It remains a lethal exercise to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions and actions of specified targeted audiences for ideological and political purposes which may be profitable to some but detrimental to many. Falsehood is deliberately fabricated to masquerade as the truth. Those who have mastered this blackest of the dark art, do not care for how deadly is this for those in its direct path and there is no exaggeration in it that larger humanity is endangered in case such narratives do not end and a sincere engagement for resolving Kashmir is undertaken because the Kashmir conflict has reached a precarious stage ever since India and Pakistan has become nuclear states. It does not require special wisdom to appreciate that the problem has the potential to inflame the whole South Asian region and even the global security situation. After India and Pakistan becoming nuclear, the dispute has evolved into the world’s most likely flashpoints of nuclear exchange. It is more alarming in the absence of the doctrines to tell as to when and how the nuclear weapons have to be used. Pakistan during Musharraf’s time has said that it may be first to use them in case of threat of their extinction. This threat is already aggravated by non-cooperation and absence of real diplomatic engagement between the two neighbours. There is unfortunately, no debate, discussion or dialogue between the two. Dialogue is critical for these two nations as their responsibility is also critical. In the strained environment and atmosphere, it is quite conceivable that a slightest spark can trigger the worst. Attitudes, therefore need to soften and conditions for meaningful direct engagement need to be created or else accord an opportunity to a third party to mediate to hammer out a solution before it is too late for every stake holder. The policy status quo is in nobody’s interest. India choosing the military option to crush the militancy and militants reacting with more and more violence. In the process, neither Kashmir can be won nor will anyone the other party come close to its objective. It will only increase the death and destruction.
This time, hopefully, we have succeeded in evading a catastrophe by good sense prevailing on both sides and deescalate from the situation of war. But the lady luck is not always there to smile at you. One is otherwise sceptical about immediately witnessing any positive development but that may be to the greatest misfortune of the region. Events suggest that if all the stake holders do not rise to the occasion and resolve the dispute, a darkest phase may be waiting to unleash its cruelty on us all. It is no secret that NATO forces are on their way out from Afghanistan and Kashmir is likely to become a convenient host to yet another war theatre in the region. This apprehension is not far-fetched in the light of the recent signals coming from Afghanistan in the shape of a strong warning by Taliban past week. The statement of the Taliban called upon India to exercise restraint and avoid escalation into war with Pakistan so that the peace talks between the US and Taliban are not jeopardized as Pakistan is the facilitator of these talks. Earlier there was also some demonstration reported from Afghanistan against India. It is, therefore, in the vital interests of all the parties involved in Kashmir conflict to rise to the occasion and without wasting any further time work towards its resolution with historical and psychological perspective in mind.
(A leading lawyer and a noted poet, the author is a regular contributor to this newspaper and can be reached at: [email protected])