Terror and Talk
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Terror and Talk

The countries, which support cultural exchange program across the regions and promote economic and business trade, do not engage themselves in war like activities or maintain adversarial relations.

Ever since the formation of BJP-led government at the Centre and its alliance in formation of government in the J&K State, the relation between India and Pakistan has deteriorated.  

Frequent skirmishes at the LoC and terror attacks in different parts of the country have escalated resulting in civilian casualties, Indian army's retaliation notwithstanding. The international community has genuinely been concerned about the increasing tensions between the two countries.

In the aftermath of the understanding reached between the two countries at Ufa, the NSA level dialogue is schedule for August 23-24, 2015 at New Delhi. While the challenge of laying a roadmap for resolution of all the contentious issues is daunting indeed, PM Modi has righty said in his recent address on August 17 at Dubai that all political differences can be resolved through an active engagement of the stakeholders in a meaningful dialogue process. 

At this juncture, it is important therefore that both the countries should resolve to adhere to the principle of maintaining and promoting the process of uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue. In this backdrop, a way forward to approach the major contentious issues is outlined herein below.

First, National Security is of paramount interest, particularly in the wake of recent undeclared war between the two countries. At the NSA level meeting, the talk on terror, with which both the countries have suffered irreparable losses, is unavoidable.

In response to the major terror attacks, originating from Pakistan, which India is expected to raise, Pakistan may also counter by raising the oft-repeated complaints about the alleged activities of RAW in supporting the belligerent groups in Pakistan.

The blame game from both the sides, howsoever justified, may lead to mudding the dialogue process, the outcome of which may turn out to be a flop show. This must be avoided. And, an opportunity must be seized to explore the ways to find piecemeal solutions to all the problems that we face today.

It is expected, at least, that NSAs of both the countries may chart out the path to cooperate with each other in dismantling the terror training camps as well as to ensure that the financers of such inhuman activities are brought to book and, if possible, disallowing such transactions?

Second, all the bilateral dialogue process may be preceded by a wider consultation among all the major stakeholders, who should be taken on board. For Pakistan, it may be necessary for the civilian government to take on board both the Army and the ISI as well; since initiatives of the civilian government for promoting peace and development are generally in contravention of the role played by the Army, which is evident from frequent violation of cease-fire at the LoC by Pakistan.

India too may take on board both the major national political parties –  mainly the Congress – and the political leadership in the J&K State. Both the countries may thus evolve consensus on every contentious issues through the well-established democratic process.

Only after the completion of these processes, matter should be placed on table for discussion to take it to a mutually acceptable decision. 

Unfortunately, the leadership of both the countries has thus far not done enough homework to evolve a consensus on any of the issue affecting both the countries and its residents.

Third, as a starting point, a review of Vajpayee-Musharraf formulae for resolving Kashmir imbroglio, which is the root cause of most of the bilateral problems, is urgently called for. The K-issue should not be sidetracked at any cost, as the regional cooperation in matters of peace and development rests on it.

 Kashmir conundrum has brought untold agony and miseries to people by creating deep divide within the communities.  It has created deep divisions in the international political opinion. It has been victim of intrigue during Independence and in the process of its accession to India.

The meeting of NSAs of both the nuclear power countries should do well to create a mechanism for fine-tuning the said formulae for permanent resolution of the K-issue that will cheer the entire humanity.

Fourth, the task of resolving all the bilateral issues is complex and compounded by many factors ranging from ideological perspectives to humanitarian and security concerns.

Front Channel must be supported by Track-II level engagements with the individuals and institutions in both the countries as the approach of the latter is possible up to the grassroots level. Hence, both the countries may evolve mechanisms for track-II level dialogue process to prepare a solid ground for taking appropriate decisions by the national governments of both the countries.

 Track-II must ensure to evolve talking points such as terrorism and violence are taboo; the resolution must be acceptable to all political elements and regions of the state; extremist positions held by all for the previous six decades have to be and will be abandoned; and the exiled religious minorities will be rehabilitated with honour and rights of equality.

Fifth, government of both the countries should not be oblivious of emotional attachment between the divided families and cultural affinity among the people of both sides. The recent film story of Bajrangi Bhaijan is an apt reminder of love for humanity across the borders.

The countries, which support cultural exchange program across the regions and promote economic and business trade, do not engage themselves in war like activities or maintain adversarial relations.

Both the countries must give a chance to its people to establish contacts at various levels, which will pave the way for establishing a friendly relationship with all the neighboring countries.

Finally, Indian and Pakistan may claim the strengths of their respective army but the moot point over the six decades has been the wish and will of the political systems at both sides.

 Wars will never result in any amicable settlement and the political system will have to come out of the well.  It is now expected of a vibrant democratic country, with a strong Central government in India, and the Nawaz Shariff democratic government in Pakistan to engage all the stakeholders in search of a solution for a peaceful existence and prosperity of the entire human race in the sub-continent. The ensuing opportunity of NSA level talk must be seized to the advantage of our people in the region.

(Ashok Bhan is Senior Advocate and Chairman, Kashmir Policy & Strategy Group)

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