No Solution in Sight

  • 来源:北京周报
  • 关键字:Pakistan,India
  • 发布时间:2016-05-26 11:28

  After weeks of futile brinkmanship,the foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India met on April 26 in New Delhi on the sidelines of the Sixth Heart of Asia conference.They exchanged warm handshakes,and the usual photo-ops and wide smiles followed.However,the session ended without any agreement to revive a stalled peace process,dashing the hopes of millions in both countries who desire peaceful ties based on the simple principle of coexistence.

  As there was no formal joint communiqué at the end of the talks,the two sides quickly resorted to social media to offer “glimpses” of the discussion.The selective comments dished out to the media was an effort to satisfy domestic elements,which are ever hungry to feed on any hint of antagonism in bilateral relations.

  The pattern of India-Pakistan meetings has become predictable.The two countries often waste months (and sometimes years) through posturing,then suddenly a major activity is announced out of the blue.Serious preparations for peace are seldom made,while officials repeat the same age-old allegations against each other.Media outlets in the two countries run the same stories,which have been making the rounds for decades.After formal interactions,a new chill creeps into the relationship.

  The best example of this off-the-cuff diplomacy was the visit of military leader Pervez Musharraf,who dashed to New Delhi in July 2001 with the hope of creating history.It was one of the most hyped-up meetings between the two countries,and the media coverage Musharraf received was unparalleled,with his every move captured and printed.

  But the purpose of the visit failed.After two-days of hectic talks in the historic city of Agra,Musharraf flew back empty-handed.The lack of success was due to no properly defined agenda or options to disentangle the heated disputes.

  On December 25 last year,Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he planned to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore,Pakistan.The purpose was to create goodwill,possibly paving the way for formal talks to commence.As the visit was spontaneous and lacking the formal prep work,it also failed to achieve solid results.Its limited impact was negated by the terrorist attack at India’s Pathankot air base on January 3.

  The latest meeting between foreign ministers has been overdue since January 15,when the Indian foreign minister was meant to visit Pakistan for a formal meeting to start the Comprehensive Dialogue Process that had been agreed on last December.This failed to bear fruit due to the airbase attack.Later,the atmosphere was further soured when Pakistan announced the arrest of an Indian spy,who was charged with supporting militancy and creating instability.

  There are several other sources of tension between the neighbors.In my opinion,the real problem stems from a lack of trust and the prevalence of dominant rival narratives regarding each country’s intentions.Pakistan was created by the partitioning of India in 1947.Hundreds of thousands of people were killed and millions more migrated in the exchange of Hindu and Muslim populations between Pakistan and India.These violent events set the tone for the future ties—roughly seven decades have passed,but the bloodbath is still being used to whip up sentiment.

  Various efforts have been made to calm relations,but they have lacked a warm touch and enthusiasm for a better relationship.Instead of establishing a peaceful future for the new generation,these occasional meetings of officials are wasted by highlighting previous grievances.

  The rivalry is institutionalized and supported by influential individuals,religious groups,political parties and security establishments.In fact,some groups thrive on the prevailing atmosphere of mistrust and enmity and try to perpetuate it.

  The two sides have conveniently forgotten that the sorry state of current relations hardly fits into the cooperative vision envisaged by their respective founding fathers.

  By Sajjad Malik

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