Pakistan-India Relations; Time to bury the hatchet?

Sep 11, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: The Diplomat

Remember, remember the 6th of September – when the sound of gunfire thundered in the walls, when the tap of soldiers’ feet quaked in the soil, when the fumes of raging planes diffused in the sky, when the sweaty, sunburnt smell of bravery engulfed the air.

From changing our Facebook covers to wearing green t-shirts, we all have different ways of expressing our pride about Pakistan’s sweeping victory against our hate-worthy archrival, India. Read the previous sentence again. You liked the words ‘pride’, ‘sweeping victory’, and ‘hateworthy archrival’ and probably scoffed at the word, ‘India’. If not, applaud yourself for not being victim to the common Pakistani’s anti-India syndrome.

Today, India’s name has been inscribed into our minds and hearts as Pakistan’s eternal enemy. Patriotism itself has become equivalent to a premature concoction of hatred towards India along with approval and unquestionable appreciation for Pakistan.

Every wrongdoing in Pakistan can now be traced to India. RAW is involved in every bomb blast – of course, Pakistan’s liberal populace would never resort to such radical acts! India rigs every cricket match it wins – of course, Dhoni just can’t score a six in the World Cup! The Indians are compelling the Balochis to secede – obviously, the Balochis are mindless people who will not protest against social and economic deprivation unless good old Mother India tells them to do so!

As a nation, our aversion for India has instilled a sense of denial into the masses – the fact that India has left Pakistan behind socially, economically, politically and intellectually. And this denial breeds distraction from the idea that Pakistan is largely responsible for its own problems.

But the main purpose of this article is to show that the Indo-Pak relationship today is far from a Cold War between two arch-nemeses.

In May 2012, Pakistan agreed to grant India the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status by the end of the year upon China’s suggestion.  Pakistan can get oil, iron, and coal for steel mills and life-saving drugs from India at cheaper rates while it can export goods like value added textile and agricultural items, plastic goods, chemical and cement to India. This agreement shows how the political mindsets are becoming rational enough to realize the potential economic benefits of Indo-Pak trade. China, India and Pakistan, the three main belligerents in 1965, are the same countries expanding trade and commerce relations today.

Cricket diplomacy has also helped to mitigate the historical animosity between the two states. Shockingly (or not), The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced in July that it would extend an invitation to host a short series at the end of this year against Pakistan. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) cheerfully welcomed the development, calling it a ‘fruitful result’ of persistent discussions and commitment to resolution. Clearly, India and Pakistan have decided to bury the past and this year, we will see resumption of cricket ties between the two – a commendable breakthrough. Both countries love cricket and I hope this mutual love for the sport can bond the two together in healthy rivalry.

On September 8, 2012, S M Krishna and Hina Rabbani Khar met in Islamabad and agreed to ease visa restrictions, and hence, promote cultural and ideological mobility between the two states. The new laws have allowed visa validity durations as long as 6 months.

After seven years of so, the two countries have also met in a joint commission for active discussions and have signed several cultural agreements. Cultural harmony is integral to a sustainable relationship.

In recent times, bilateral talks have become increasingly common and we see a positive shift from the blame game to amiable, appreciative rhetoric. Last month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Zardari met in Tehran during the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), a forum built on the principles of anti-colonialism, anti-racism, anti-imperialism and cultural unity and integration. Therefore, the forum clearly underlined the themes that should define the Indo-Pak relationship today.

Although words are just words, the point here is that India and Pakistan are no longer hurling rockets and grenades at each other. They are talking, smiling, discussing and shaking hands and no matter how half-hearted these actions may be, the Indo-Pak relationship is no longer black and white- India is not the ‘foe’ who must be defeated.

Undoubtedly, many outstanding issues remain but I won’t mention them here because they will ruin the mood of the article. Yes, I am being optimistic here if you feel that the developments above have no real significance. But the point still stands: we no longer live in a world where Indian and Pakistani diplomats cannot sit comfortably in the same room or where the two countries meet to sign armistices rather than trade treaties.

 “One small scribble on paper; one giant leap for PakistanIndia bilateral relations,” -Twitter

“The more Indians and Pakistanis meet each other, work together and do business together, the more we will build trust, and it will have a greater chance for a lasting goodwill than anything governments can mandate.”Vishaka Desai, President – Asia Society

“What has happened till now is history, and we will not be held hostage to history. We build on convergences that unite us. We aspire to look at India with a different mindset.”Hina Rabbani Khar

Times have changed. Let us bury the anti-Indian hatchet and change with the times.

Last week, we discussed Turkey’s secular approach and how Pakistan can benefit from the same model. You can read that and more inThe Diplomat

The Author

I have an avid interest in international politics, disparate global perspectives, human social and economic evolution, cultural diversity and how all these ideas tie together with Pakistan's current scenario. I believe in a secular, culturally integrated and stable Pakistan, and I hope to work towards the materialization of this dream.

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