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Pakistan army’s offer of dialogue

The issue of dialogue between India and Pakistan is weighing heavily on the psyche of the two countries. The invitation by Pakistan army for talks with India is the manifestation of the desire for the talks. On Thursday, Pakistan army invited India to table for dialogue to resolve all the pending issues including the 70 years long pending dispute of Kashmir. Major General Asif Ghafoor, the army’s spokesperson, in an interview with a private news channel said it was India which always escaped from talks. He pointed out that there is history of tense relations between Pakistan and India mainly due to unresolved Kashmir issue. Indian army generals besides political leadership too have support idea of dialogue between India and Pakistan on several occasions in the past. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, since his coronation on the top job, has consistently been pleading for dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad to establish peace in the region. Recently, India’s home minister Rajnath Singh too has that government of India was ready for dialogue. He, however, out a rider saying dialogue was possible only if ‘terrorism’ was stopped.

Keen observers associated Rajnath Singh’s ride on talks to home compulsions of the BJP-led government at the centre. Prime Minister Modi is facing general elections in April/May this year. But he has little to show before the electorate as its achievements in its five years rule. It is all the more necessary for the BJP leadership to whip up national sentiment to attract the voters. “Relations with Pakistan” is one such issue that can serve the BJP’s political agenda. “Anti-Pakistan” rhetoric is becoming louder and harsher in India as elections are approaching. It was perhaps against this backdrop that Pakistan army spokesperson said anti Pakistan slogans made the theme in election campaign in India while as in Pakistan, where elections were held last year, India was never mentioned during election campaign. It is perhaps against this backdrop that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan sometime back said that he would persuade India for dialogue again after general elections next year.

Whatever the compulsions, this, however, has quite a negative effect on overall situation in the region. The situation along the Line of Control (LOC ) and the Working Boundary between India and Pakistan continues to remain tense. It is rather degrading with each passing day. It is no exaggeration to say that the current level of hostilities is the most dangerous escalation since the 2003 ceasefire agreement. Though the ceasefire violations never ceased on the LOC or working boundary but it had never been as threatening as today. The numbers of dead on both sides, civil and military, is rising. Indian and Pakistani armies, last year, released videos of attacks on each others’ positions on the LOC claiming heavy losses on both sides. The most unfortunate part is that there is no agency or process or set of protocols that appear to be able or willing to stop or at least bring a pause to what is now dangerously close to outright warfare.

The provocative statements by military and political leadership and incensed media propaganda on both sides go on un-endingly. The international community appears too indifferent to threatening bickering between the two nuclear powers of south Asia. It needs some urgent and out-of-box initiative to bring India and Pakistan back on dialogue track. United Nations can do this if the big powers, more particularly, the United States wished to shun its market-driven policies towards India and Pakistan. It is right time for United Nations to step in and put pressure on the two countries to end the hostilities and start the dialogue process to resolve the problems for ever in the best interest of the peace. There is also need for honest internal appraisal, both, by India and Pakistan of what they can do to regain the lost track of peace and dialogue process.