Pathway to peace
Zardari’s India visit hints at exciting times ahead
VIEWPOINT BY ANIL ANAND
Contrary to expectations Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s whistle-stop visit to India has proved exciting in more than one ways. It will be naive to think that no planning had gone into it and that it was only a personal visit to pay obeisance at the revered sufi shrine of Ajmer Sharief. There is no denying the fact that it was one of the important functions of his visit which became instrumental in opening new vistas of opportunities between the two countries.
Those who thought that nothing would emerge from such a short visit were justified to hold this view to some extent. But little did they realise that in the Indo-Pak context even a little positive gesture could trigger a chain of events leading to that elusive cordiality not only between the two neighbours but in the entire Indian sub-continent.
Precisely, Zardari’s visit has proved to be some kind of a trigger which has been confirmed by the pronouncements such as India agreeing to permit Foreign Direct Investment from Pakistan. It could have been an unthinkable thought under the prevailing circumstances. But the fact that Commerce Minister Anand Sharma’s historic pronouncement has not evoked any negative response from the prophets of doom, both in India and Pakistan, is something noteworthy. The icing on the cake is that the proposal has been viewed pragmatically in Jammu and Kashmir as well.
Zardari might not be a heavyweight in the mould of his father-in-law Zulfikar Ali Bhutto or his illustrious wife Benazir Bhutto but he must be given due credit to have shown courage to plan his ‘Dargah Diplomacy’ at a very crucial time. It is of much more significance from his personal political perspective back home and equally significant to achieve a thaw in the Indo-Pak relations which had come to a sort of standstill so far movement of events at the top levels is concerned. Who knows that a reciprocal visit by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Pakistan and his place of birth Gawh is now round the corner.
There is a caveat to it. Much will depend on the ground situation in Pakistan in the days and months to come.
Ostensibly, the plan went according to the script. Waiting to grab an opportunity Dr Singh lost no time to invite Zardari and his entourage including his son and Pakistan People’s Party chief Bilawal for a brief luncheon meeting enroute Ajmer Sharief. From the available account of events, Singh’s gesture had a mesmerising affect and the two leaders were able to discuss most of the bilateral issues during 45 minute one-o-one meeting.
The biggest achievement of Zardari’s visit is the recognition of the fact that dialogue is the only option to improve ties between the two countries and subsequently find resolution of all the pending issues, bilateral or otherwise. It is noteworthy to see that economics has taken precedence over politics which is confirmed by the series of exchanges and interactions between the trade delegations and officials that had started taking place just before Pakistan President’s visit to New Delhi and are continuing thereafter.
Economic prosperity in the region particularly in Pakistan will be a mollifying factor but not for all times to come. It should be used as means to create conducive atmosphere and better understanding to finally head towards the resolution of the contentious issues
Nobody can and should ignore the fact that the route for a long-lasting friendship between India and Pakistan passes through Jammu and Kashmir. The issue or some may like to call it a dispute should be discussed on an equitable basis and its entirety as it stood before 1948. Again, it will be naive to find a solution to the vexed problem through the pages of history. It is desirable that the entire gamut of Indo-Pak issues including Kashmir should be looked through the prism of current challenges and a bright future.
The analysis of Zardari’s visit will be incomplete without mentioning the heartrending tragedy of Saltoro range (Siachen glacier) where a deadly avalanche swept through a posse of Pakistan army and over a hundred still lay buried under a mountain of snow. It was a god sent signal, but at a very heavy price, for the two countries particular Islamabad to see reason and work towards creating a peace zone in the Himalayan glacier. It is a fact that the two countries are losing more young men to the vagaries of weather defending their respective sides of the border on the high glacier. It is even a much greater cost than what the two sides are paying in terms of money to keep their troops fighting fit under those inhospitable conditions.
Where do we go from here? This is the most important question coming to mind after Zaradari’s visit. First and foremost, the two sides should be positive in their approach and provide some elbow space to each other. Wherever possible, the radicals and extremists should be forced to see reason using democratic means. This will help both the sides in the ultimate scheme of things to take liberty and move away from stated positions. The people on the two sides of the border or LoC should start thinking in terms of a broader sub-continental approach rather than regional or provincial.
More significantly, stress should be laid on developing a culture based
on tolerance, mutual understanding and respect. There is no better way to achieve this but through people to people exchanges which should not remain confined to few social birds but percolate down to the level of common man on both the sides.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 17 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM OPINION
Give 15-Day Ultimatum To Govt
ZAHID MAQBOOLSrinagar, Apr16: Sarpanchs on Monday threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike if government fails to come clear on the implementation of the JK Panchayat Raj Act within 15 days.  More
- Srinagar City
Srinagar, Apr 16: At a time when Srinagar is witnessing removal of CRPF bunkers, this one near the bridge connecting Jawahar Nagar with Padshahi Bagh continues to hinder public movement. The locals More
'New Clause Will Enable State To Use Water Usage Money For Power Generation'
Jammu, Apr 16: The state government is contemplating to amend J&K Water Resources Act 2010–through an ordinance-to pave the way for using the money collected as water usage charges for building and More
- South Asia
NISAR AHMED THOKAR
Islamabad, Apr 16: Pakistan Prime Minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has said the incumbent democratic dispensation in the centre was committed to the welfare and development of people of Pakistani Administered More