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Tread beyond usual rhetoric

The issue of dialogue between India and Pakistan is weighing heavily on the psyche of the two countries. The statements of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Indian home minister Rajnath Singh are indicative of the urge for peace in both the countries. However, what marked the two statements differently is the rider Rajnath Singh put on the talks. In Srinagar, on Tuesday, Rajnath Singh said that government of India was ready to hold dialogue with anyone including Pakistan to restore peace. He, however, was quick to add that ‘terror and talks will not go together”. Former chief minister Mahbooba Mufti too insisted the home minister to start dialogue with Pakistan. She said that there was no other alternative. Keen observers believe that BJP’s home compulsions are the major stumbling block in initiating dialogue. BJP is facing general elections in April next year. But it 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. The people in power in Pakistan understand this compulsion more than anyone else. It is perhaps against this backdrop that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan 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. Only, a few days back, three Indian soldiers and two Pakistani nationals (who the army said were member of border action team) were killed in Rajouri. The tension on the borders is all time high. Indian army chief Gen Bipin Rawat was recently reported to have “further” surgical strikes in Pakistan which caused a strong reaction in Islamabad. The Pak army spokesperson warned India of 10 such strikes if they went for one. 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 so threatening as it is today. The numbers of dead on both sides, civil and military, is rising. Indian and Pakistani armies, some time back, 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.