Political Approach Needed

Greater Kashmir / Greater Kashmir
Publish Date: Nov 12 2012 12:00PM

India has decided to host Pakistan interior minister Abdur Rehman Malik who is likely to come for a pilgrimage to Ajmer Sharief in January next year. The visit will help in operationalizing the recent liberalized visa agreement signed at the recent foreign ministers talks in Islamabad. Besides, New Delhi will also press for speeding up the trial against the handlers of the Mumbai attack. India expects to have the voice samples of the alleged perpetrators of the attack which has been a long time demand of New Delhi.  Terrorism has been the focus of the engagements between the former home minister P Chidambaram and Malik. Things have, however, moved on in recent months with efforts to strengthen economic cooperation dominating the parleys between the two countries. And the pact on a liberalized visa regime has been the high point of the bilateral process so far.  As a result, there is much that has changed for the better in Indo-Pak relationship. The progress so far has restored the minimum degree of trust and confidence which has created a scope for a substantive movement forward. One sign of this transformation is the resumption of India-Pakistan cricketing ties. Pakistan team is coming to play in India in December which hopefully will lead to Team India visiting Pakistan in not so distant future.  However, there has been little progress in the dialogue on the long-festering political issues which remains a cause of concern. The two countries have chosen to pursue an economic approach to talks as against a political approach that marked the dialogue through 2003-2007 when General Pervez Musharraf was in power in Pakistan. The economic approach, no doubt, has its prospects but it faces deep pitfalls in the absence of a degree of parallel progress on political issues. The recent sparring over Kashmir at United Nations is a pointer of the dangers that confront two countries if they chose to leave political questions unattended. There is thus an urgent need for a simultaneous progress on both tracks for a sustainable long term relationship.