Forward Move

Javid Ahmed

India has asked its envoy in Pakistan to open channels of communication with Pakistan army chief General Pervez Kayani as well as ISI chief Shuja Pasha, which, if he agrees, could open up new possibilities of deepening Indo-Pak engagement. “We have given the green signal,” said government sources.

This was reported in one of the leading English dailies ‘The Times of India’ on March 27. If the report really carries weight then this could well turn out to be beginning of the end of long-standing impasse that India and Pakistan have experienced at a horrible cost paid directly by none other than the people of Kashmir (means Jammu and Kashmir).

Since summer 2010 only scores of civilians, majority of whom were young boys, paid this huge price in blood.

Political rhetoric of the two states apart, the real nuts and bolts of negotiating strategy can only be worked out by the real centers of power in both the states, which is mostly political class in India and Armed forces in Pakistan.

The very attempt to reach out towards each other augurs only well for the interactions both at diplomatic and political level. The recently concluded Home Secretary level talks, which reportedly ended on a positive note, followed by a chance round of ‘cricket diplomacy’ at the highest level in Mohali seems to have the potential to set the required tone for complex but serious negotiations ahead.

Reasons for this symbolic thaw seem to be many as is always true about states. Kashmir uprisings, the covert but consistent diplomatic goading from US, India’s own strategic math plus the recent wave of popular revolts duly aided by social media that has shaken the deep-rooted oppressive regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Jordan, Syria and threatens even the desert kingdom of Saudis.

Although, history of their bilateral relations hardly inspire one to be optimistic about the outcome of these engagements but political realism of the times seriously calls for some urgent change of premises in not only the political discourse but in the very perspectives of their relationship with each other. Otherwise, economically growing India may stumble because of its ‘insecure’ political vanity and growing menace of extremism that feeds on ideological grouse might devour geo-politically prized Pakistan.

Kashmir First: Kashmir, which so far has been the main cause of this congenital animosity between India and Pakistan, can be hugely consequential for the future prosperity of both the nations.

However, to invest any forward movement with substance, people of J&K have to be recognized as the principal party to what is considered technically to be the dispute between these two states.

Besides, any process meant to promote peace and understanding between the two states must reflect its content from the ground zero in Kashmir, which has not been the case with such proclaimed processes so far.

And the process has to move ahead of the ‘talking’ phase which has found favourites with both the states.

Tail-piece: Cricket is finally a matter of play with not so big stakes except for national egos while as in matters of such politics its nations themselves that are at stake.

And mature nations make choices that are but rational.

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