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Grab the opportunity

It is quite premature to say what way the Indo-Pak relations would go in the days to come. But there are definitely some positive indications. Pakistan’s Prime Minister-in-waiting Imran Khan deserves all appreciation for taking the lead. In his victory speech, he offered to make peace with India by resolving the controversial issues including Kashmir through dialogue. Khan promised India Prime Minister that in response to India’ one step, he would take two steps forward to set relations between the two on a peaceful track. Much to the satisfaction, Narendra Modi too has reacted positively. Congratulating Khan, Modi assured him not only of cooperation but also talked of a joint strategy to take things forward. Imran Khan, in response, said that India and Pakistan needed a joint strategy to weed out poverty from the region. Khan also said that the bilateral issues that acted as strain in the relations needed to be resolved through dialogue and consensus. The latest reports are that Imran Khan is contemplating on inviting Modi besides other SAARC heads of governments on his oath ceremony which is to be held on August 11. It is not clear as how India Prime Minister would respond to the invite if Imran Khan extends it. Though these are simply rituals almost said and done by new office holders across the globe but in the hostile Indo-Pak relations this can make a good beginning. That gives one the sense that the two sides are very keen to see peace on the borders. While it needed to be appreciated as positive development, a section of media, more particularly TV news channels, and some rabid extremist elements in the BJP are trying to play spoilsport by opposing any initiative for dialogue. Senior BJP leader and parliament member Subramanyan Swami, who is known for his anti Muslim and anti Pakistan rants, has urged government to go for war with Pakistan and ‘finish” the country. Swami’s war cry could be conveniently termed as a huge spark of madness in him. But the problem with the present government is that it almost goes with the same mad voices.

It is also quite sad to note that a small but vocal constituency led by mad-media has high-jacked the agenda of the government and they formulate the foreign policy in TV studios. This is a reflection on the thinking and wisdom of the people in office that they get affected by this jingo-brigade.  It would not be exaggeration to say that the central government is holding back from dialogue with Pakistan for the fear of this warmongering group. It is time that saner voices be heard and understood sans preconceived notions. The domestic squabbles and internal political exigencies have relegated the once vaunted India-Pakistan peace process to the proverbial square one.  Not that the bilateral talks ever appeared to be more than a diversionary tactic of sorts. It is rather the domestic compulsions that make India and Pakistan to tread on hostile path. If the drift in Indo-Pak relations is not arrested it would appear that in the not too distant future the process may well be denuded of the proverbial fig leaf that has afforded it a semblance of respectability of sorts. Government of India might have a genuine case when they say that talks could be held only after Pakistan stopped ‘exporting terrorism’. But India is not the only country which faces terrorism. Pakistan has faced the wrath of terrorism more than India. Pakistan has publicly accused India of supporting and sponsoring terrorists in Pakistan. A former officer of Indian navy is in custody of Pakistan, who, the Pakistani authorities say, was on a terror mission in Pakistan. The allegations and counter-allegations would go on indefinitely unless some reasonable steps are taken to get people out of the caged mentality. The first step, in this regard, is to restart the dialogue process. That is the only way forward. Imran Khan has provided this opportunity and it needs to be grabbed with political will and extreme sincerity.