Where do we go from here?

Jarring notes in the Indo-Pak relations and the K-factor



Five CRPF personnel brutally killed ostensibly by Pakistan trained Fidayeen (suicide bombers). Pakistan Parliament passes a resolution condemning the hanging of Parliament House attack convict Afzal Guru. India has put on hold the proposed group tourist visa facility for Pakistan nationals.
On the face of it, these seem to be routine happenings in the post 1947 Indian sub-continental history. But coming at this juncture at the beginning of 21st century, these are worrying developments. More so,  as lots of efforts have gone into thrashing out the Indo-Pak bilateral irritants during the past decade or so than ever before. And, more so militancy had ebbed in Kashmir during the last three years or so and serious efforts were on to resolve the Kashmir crisis.
There has been a total mishandling of the Afzal Guru hanging case at the stage of execution. It has certainly dealt a blow to the Kashmiri psyche particularly the younger generations who might have been on course to discovering a new world around due to painstaking efforts aimed at brokering peace between India and Pakistan and endeavor to find solution to the internal conflicts in Kashmir. This was despite a total breaking down of the political system in Kashmir with the ruling National Conference and the premier opposition party Peoples Democratic Party refusing to recognise the need for a collective wisdom to tide over the crisis at least in its latest manifestation.
What is happening in Kashmir in the context of NC-PDP stand-off and a total discord between the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir is an index of how the electoral politics and greed to rise to power run roughshod over everything else including the public interest. The same is true at the national levels where the ruling Congress and the BJP are tide-over in a similar situation, though with different connotations, with an eye on the next Lok Sabha elections.
The story is no different in the neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh. The basic issue even there is the election season which the two countries are currently going through. And a common thread has been to overplay the anti-India sentiment as emotive bait to the people to secure their votes.
This reflects the myopic mindset of the political class in the sub-continent. Of late, Islamabad has been cosying up to India and the two countries have taken some significant steps towards mutual cooperation in diverse fields. But passing of a resolution by Pakistan Parliament condemning Guru’s hanging and issuing a diktat to the Indian Government for handing over his body to his family is neither in the bilateral interests nor will bring any credit to the fledgling Pakistan power structure.
The resolution in Pakistan was moved by the lower house of parliament two days before it completes its five-year term. The resolution was moved by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who heads a special parliamentary panel on Kashmir.
The Government of India had no option but to match their reaction to be viewed as politically correct and in this case rightly too. “This shows Pakistan’s unhealthy interest in matters of our country and Pakistan should restrict themselves to their issues,” was how External Affairs Minister Mr Salman Khurshied reacted.
With the Budget Session of Parliament on and with BJP, the proactive premier opposition party, on the look-out for any opportunity to corner the Congress-led Government with an eye on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it was but natural for Mr Khurshied to have reacted in this fashion. 
Also, the proposed group tourist visa facility to Pakistani nationals has also been put on hold in the wake of growing unease in bilateral ties between the two nations. The beheading of two Indian soldiers, killing of five CRPF personnel and Pakistan’s attempt to meddle into the Guru hanging case has triggered this move.
"We are not going to operationalise the group visa facility to be offered to Pakistani national," a senior Home Ministry official had reacted. Barring this, no official reason has been given for the latest move. The two countries had agreed to operationalize the group tourist visa facility to be offered to each other's citizens from March 15.
The Government has already put on hold visa on arrival facility for senior citizens -- part of the new relaxed India-Pakistan visa-regime. There is no doubt, as was stated by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, that the recent incidents of terrorism and killing of Indian soldiers have cast a shadow on bilateral relations between the two countries
Certainly, in democratic countries such as India and to some extent Pakistan, the politics is guided by public sentiment. But it is also the duty of the political parties to create an atmosphere which is conducive to reasoning with an aim at finding long term solutions to the problems. Feeding people on short-cuts rather than preparing them for long term solutions should be avoided particularly by the political parties.
Detach politics from sensitive issues such as Kashmir but keep the public sentiment in mind while offering or working for solutions should be the policy. The formula should be applicable to the entire sub-continental politics.
In the context of Kashmir, the powers that be in Delhi and those claiming to reflect the will of the people in the troubled state should act with utmost responsibility. Keep politics aside for the time being and try to discover areas of mutual agreement, of course, keeping in view the people’s views and sentiments, for long lasting solution.
Doomsayers will always been in the look out to grab any opportunity and go for the kill. It is incumbent on the civilised society, the polity included, to keep these negative forces at bay through proper decision making and planning.

Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Mar 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Mar 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Mar 2013 00:00:00 IST

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