A 70-year-long history of mutual distrust,betrayal and fear stands in the way of durable peace between Pakistan and India. And the task in front of the two countries remains finding ways for achieving the latter in spite of the former — and notwithstanding several unsuccessful attempts at it.
But unfortunately, the two states just lost another opportunity to do so as Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj opted for rhetoric alone in her speech concerning Pakistan. In turn, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) Maleeha Lodhi ended up using her time to speak at the UNGA to reciprocate Indian allegations with more rhetoric. The end result is that another opportunity to start a dialogue seems to have been missed.
We hope that both Swaraj and Lodhi recognise very well that theatrics alone won’t be enough for resolution of longstanding issues like the Kashmir dispute. And if that is the case, we expect the two envoys to go light on mere rhetorical references from that history of mutual distrust, betrayal and fear, and instead, focus their energies on finding solutions. For this, it may be helpful to adopt an introspective approach towards history, while keeping the focus set on a peaceful and prosperous future for more than 15-hundred-million people who look towards the two states for delivery of fundamental rights and civil liberties and provision of livelihood opportunities and services like education and healthcare.
And if the two envoys have yet to recognise this shared burden under which they dispense their responsibilities, we urge them to do so without delay.
Only recently a non-government organisation working towards regional peace released a report highlighting the dearth of economic opportunities and resultant poverty in the region. It would be best if the two states divert their energies towards eradication of this and other shared menaces including religious extremism and its violent manifestations – rather than continued indulgence in an arms race that leaves the people on both sides poorer.
The way forward has to be based on policies that enable the two states to pursue the aforementioned common goals. By doing so, the states will also be breaking with the tradition of mistrust, betrayal and fear and replacing it with the tradition of peaceful co-existence and mutual cooperation. Coincidentally, there are opportunities starring both states in the face — like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — that can enable them to achieve this.
Daily Times, September 25, 2017
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