As India and Pakistan continue to fire artilleries at each other’s positions on the LOC and International Border (IB), the ‘war’ has spread to New York where the foreign ministers and other representatives of the two countries are busy in exchanging verbal volleys in the ongoing UN General Assembly session. The foreign minister were earlier scheduled to meet and discuss peace on the sidelines of the session but the abrupt cancellation of the proposed meeting, barely four hours after its announcement, brought the two countries to a new level of hostility. The announcement of the planned meeting had been considered an encouraging sign for restarting stalled talks between the nuclear-armed neighbours. New Delhi had agreed to hold the meeting in response to a letter from newly-elected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has written his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, stressing the need for positive change, a mutual desire for peace and a readiness to discuss terrorism. There is a war of words going on between the two countries at the UNGA session. While Pakistan raised the Kashmir issue and “India’s brutal response to Kashmiris demand for azadi and gross human rights violations by its forces”, India hit back accusing Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism in south Asia. India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj alleged that Pakistan sheltered international terrorist Osma Bin Laden before he was killed in his Pakistani hideout. Pakistan FM Shah Mahmood Quriashi in his counter-speech said that “Pakistan continues to face terrorism that is financed, facilitated and orchestrated by our eastern neighbour.” He referred to extremist attacks in his home country, including one at an army school in the north-western city of Peshawar in 2014 that killed more than 150 children, which he said were perpetrated by “terrorists supported by India.
The acrimony and insult that was played on speaks of the bewildering standards of relations between Delhi and Islamabad. For now, it appears that India and Pakistan have stuck to their respective lines. A moment of hope has been gratuitously extinguished. With the involvement of army top brass in war of words, the hostility seems to be touching new heights. Indian army Chief Bipin Rawat said that India needed to take stern action to avenge the ‘barbarism’ by Pakistan army and the latter responding with the call “we are ready for war’. Such unpredictability among countries with nuclear weapons could be disastrous for the entire south Asia. It requires international intervention to avert such human catastrophe. It is very unfortunate that the foreign policies are devised in TV studios by unprofessional anchors and retired army officers. Internal politics is believed to be major reason for the continuing hostility between the two countries. The ruling parties use the tense relations as a means to garner political support in their respective countries. With general elections scheduled in March and April next year, it is unlikely that the Indo-Pak relations would see any thaw. The ruling BJP has been thriving on divisive politics. The hostility in Indo-Pak relations is the main plank of the discordant political stand BJP believes in. One cannot expect much improvement in Indo-Pak relations before the Indian elections. The BJP leadership is using Pakistani card to discredit the opposition, the Congress in particular. Many of its leaders were heard saying, the other day, that Pakistan wanted Congress president Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Minister of India. In 2014 elections too, BJP used Pakistan and Muslims as the main issues of concern during their election campaign which polarized the Indian voter on religious lines much to the advantage of the BJP. The party is using the same prescription again with the hope to repeat the 2014 win. This is how party politics runs supreme over national issues in the subcontinent.