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Kashmir is the core issue

Indian and Pakistan have just returned from the brink of a dangerous war. Though the tension is as high as ever but the military engagement between the two countries that was witnessed on Tuesday and Wednesday has depleted. India, in a pre-dawn operation on Tuesday, sent in its fighter jets to bomb a base inside Pakistan allegedly used by Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group (responsible for suicide attack on a CRPF convoy on February 14 which killed over 40 men of the force)) for training its cadres. Pakistan responded with a broad- day light incursion by its air force, dropping bombs at an open space, shooting down two jet fighters and capturing pilot of one of the jets. As it looked that the situation could take a further ghastly turn, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan showed extra degree of maturity and statesmanship not only by calling off further military action but also by offering for dialogue and release of the captured pilot. This has to a large extent calmed down the atmosphere. Behind-the-scene international diplomacy is reported to have played a significant role in subsiding the hostility. America, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and UAE are reported to have worked off-the-scene to stop the two countries from further escalation. No more war threats are heard from either side now. The captured Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is returning home today. This also helped greatly in brining cool. Representatives of India’s armed forces held a press conference on Thursday evening. It is quite satisfying that they did not talk of any new threats but instead gave their version of the situation. That gives a hope that the region has escaped a huge catastrophe. It provides a great chance for the leadership of the two countries to show more maturity and wisdom and star a process of dialogue to resolve the issues ailing their bilateral relations.

One cannot ignore the fact that Kashmir is the core issue between the two countries. All other issues are born out this issue. Its resolution brooks no delay.

Terrorism which India considers as the main issue is the off-shoot of unresolved issue of Kashmir. Hizbul Mujahideen, JKLF, Lashkar, Jaish and all other militants have time and again said that their activities are strictly restricted to Jammu and Kashmir and they have no other agenda, global or local. These groups can be outsmarted only when a viable, meaningful, sincere and a comprehensive political process for dialogue and reconciliation is started. It is the absence of a political dialogue that accords these groups significance. India is presently at election mode. General elections for the parliament are going to be held in next two months. The priority before the incumbent government in India is the elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing a serious challenge from his political adversaries. It would be quite naïve to think that Modi and his government would, at this stage, started a dialogue process. His priority, presently, is to seek re-election. But in the interest of peace and prosperity of the region, the present government can create an atmosphere of calmness and harmony by committing to start a dialogue process after elections. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has, on several occasions, admitted this fact that in the face of elections, no dialogue could be expected with India. But what is more important is the intent. India and Pakistan should make their intent clear that they are for peace, and want resolution of mutual issues by sitting across the table. Any miscalculation from either side is bound to have a disastrous effect on the overall situation. The region has just escaped the holocaust of nuclear war but if the issue is allowed to keep on lingering, nobody can give the guarantee of peace in the sub-continent.