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Shared animosity

20 Aug. 2014 1:02 AM IST

India’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Pakistan has always followed a graph of highs and lows though the principle objective of peaceful relations between the two, which is uppermost, has been gradually relegated to the backburner. It is in the interest of both nations to live in peace with each other and focus their resources towards economic development. India may be far ahead of Pakistan in terms of economic and military might but it still cannot afford to spend so much time, resources and lives fighting Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir. Peace overtures have been made by past heads of states of both nations and which inspired hopes that bilateral relations would continue to progress and lead to a border less region where economic trade would enrich their respective economies and where families and people separated by politics could hope to visit each other without problems. Indians and Pakistanis share so many things in common such as their love of cricket, culinary delights rooted in culture and of course, families on both sides of the border. Ordinarily, Indians view Pakistanis as hostile as they promote jihadi terrorism in Kashmir and aligned with China against India’s geographical interests. However, Indians who have either visited Pakistan or lived there, seem to think that the ordinary Pakistanis are not all like what is being projected. They say there are many Pakistanis who want peace and are themselves targets of religious extremism etc. Whatever the situation in Pakistan may be, one thing that India should accept, is that having a peaceful neighbor is so much better than a hostile neighbor. Pakistan is a theocratic state where the religious edicts issued by clerics can hardly be questioned even by the country’s Supreme Court, the president or the prime minister. The military in Pakistan holds the key to the longevity of any civilian government. Today, the jihadi elements in Pakistan have become more influential because they were trained, armed and financed by the Americans to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s ISI uses such elements to fight proxy war in Kashmir to effectively bleed India. All these are known facts about Pakistan and things may not change in a hurry. However, India should not be confused about what it ought to do and not allow television media to advice or dictate the government on what should be done. Television anchorpersons are more interested in their TRPs and so their “normal” rhetorical tones for a tit-for-tat are not unexpected and neither the loud thunder claps that follow. The only way is for the government at the Centre not to fall prey to its own rhetoric but to be cautious against domestic politics overshadowing diplomacy. Talks have been cancelled when Pakistani foreign affairs officials meet with Kashmir separatists before the foreign secretaries of both countries could meet. The civilian government in Pakistan has to introspect on holding talks with India to improve relations and if it raises Kashmir then perhaps the cold war in the south Asian subcontinent would be inevitable. India must try to revive talks with Pakistan for improving relations so that it does not have to contend with two hostile neighbors.

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