Opportunity at Shanghai

Greater Kashmir

Whether the two leaders can seize the moment and build a long-missing momentum for peace in the region

In a fresh hope for a renewed engagement between India and Pakistan, the prime minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Though nothing is final as yet, there are enough indications that a “pull-aside” meeting between the leaders will take place.

This has once again build up some media excitement in both the countries about the SCO summit which is being held at Ufa in Russia.

India and Pakistan have applied to join SCO last year and there is likelihood that the two countries will be absorbed in the security group following SCO foreign ministers positive recommendation when they met in June. But in South Asia, the summit is drawing more attention for the prospect of Modi, Sharif meeting. The chances of such a meeting have brightened following Modi’s call to Sharif last month to extend his best wishes for Ramadan while stressing the need for having peaceful and bilateral ties. India also released detained Pakistani fishermen as a goodwill gesture.  

Now the question is whether the two leaders can seize the moment and build a long-missing momentum for peace in the region. After a good beginning last year when Sharif attended Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, the relations between the neighbours have steadily gone downhill. In recent months, their relations have soured further following Modi’s critical remarks on Pakistan during his recent trip to Bangladesh. India’s Myanmar operation to take out NSCN(K) militants accompanied by the threats to Pakistan made matters worse, eliciting matching aggressive reaction from Pakistan Army and the political establishment.

These developments have created a deep sense of impasse and diminished the prospect of a progress in the relations. And the only hope for a redeeming difference lies in a meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries. They owe it to the peoples of their respective countries to resume a long-stalled dialogue to forge a way forward and renew hope for a reconciliation and the resolution of their long-festering issues.