India and Pakistan are two important countries in the South Asian region and share a long and complicated history with each other. The tension between them is deeply rooted in their common history. Their failure to reconcile their differences ultimately resulted in the partition of the sub-continent which too was the result of a legal and constitutional process.
Since then, they have not been unable to resolve their differences and develop a normal good neighborly relationship, which could have benefited either side. There have been several attempts to initiate a sustainable peace process, but most were either stillborn or abandoned in their infancy. Does it mean that the two countries are condemned to live in perpetual hostility? Can they overcome their historic rivalry?
Both the nations need to understand that there is no military solution to this, or we would have had one by now. Yet, the disharmony between the two major players has adversely affected the ability of South Asia. The continued insurgency, conflict and tension, along with a nuclear dimension, will not result in anyone’s benefit. The biggest beneficiaries of this prolonged conflict have been the extremist elements and certain world powers having geo-political interests.
The explicit possession of nuclear weapons by both India and Pakistan brings about the realisation that any conflict between them would have catastrophic consequences resulting in strategic instability.
Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend. This is probably what the need of the hour is…….for both India and Pakistan.
Peace and stability are pre-requisites for economic development, trade and politico-socio-cultural relations. Avoidance of crises, prevention of conflicts, developing the confidence building exercise to alleviate the “trust deficit” and the building of mutual trust to strengthen bilateral relations; should therefore be common objectives for the two countries.
There is a huge potential for the expansion of bilateral trade between India and Pakistan resulting in economic prosperity. But other issues, such as non-tariff barriers to trade, removal of items on the Negative List, continued conflict over Kashmir etc, will have to be addressed before any positive move can be initiated towards increasing trade. This official transaction will also discourage illegal trade that at present costs the two countries substantial revenue loss.
The serious energy shortage faced by both countries is hampering their economic development and industrial output. It would be in the interests of the two countries to harness co-operation in the field of energy and possibly collaborate in the field of nuclear energy, in the distant future.
The efforts at building confidence and trust in order to seek resolution of disputes can bear fruit, only if it is sustained, and continues uninterrupted. The two countries will have to resist the disruptive forces by evolving concrete means to deal with them.
The international community can encourage and facilitate a peaceful dialogue between the two nations. Greater people-to-people contact and building a positive public opinion can help change perceptions, as people would get to see the other country as a living reality and not the monster of the news headlines. Impetus to music, art and cultural exchange programs can play an instrumental role in strengthening the ties and nurturing a deep sense of understanding and harmony. Friendly cricket and hockey matches along with other sporting events would positively boost cordial relations.
There are many other costs: some measurable in currency—like the money spent on maintaining defence forces, setting up boarders and its upkeep, destruction of property, loss of foreign investment—and other costs not measurable in hard currency, the brunt of which is borne by the masses. Even in Kashmir, the degradation of the environment, loss of life, and the misery and poverty of refugees denies the basic human dignity and rights to people.
Therefore, the world’s most dangerous conflict must and can only be resolved with third-party mediation and an intellectual and open minded intelligentsia, with the intervention of the world forum with an open minded approach, political grit and acceptance by the general masses of both the countries; forgetting the past incidences and initiating a fresh start.
To conclude we can only say that– It is not about perfection, It is about effort, and when you bring about that effort every single day, that’s when transformation happens, that’s how changes occur….
By- Mrs. Vishakha Gupta
SNBP International School, Pune
(PUBLISHED ON THE INDIA FOLKSWEBSITE)