India, Pak should talk

As Pakistan and India go into election mode this year, chances of resumption of a long stalled dialogue look highly unlikely. More so, with the belligerent rhetoric that has emanated from both the countries over the past year. In a statement on Sunday, Home minister Rajnath Singh  said that India will retaliate one bullet of Pakistan with countless bullets. He has accused Pakistan of trying to destabilize India. On the other hand, the firing along the border has been going on more frequently than ever since the nineties resulting in the loss of the lives of the civilians and the soldiers besides a massive damage to the property. Already, January has witnessed  the highest number of ceasefire violations along the LoC in fourteen years.  Thousands of people living alongside the border have had to migrate to interiors to escape the frequent border skirmishes. On Sunday, a 15-year-old girl Shahnaz Bano was injured after the firing once again broke out along the Line of Control in Poonch district’s Shahpur area. There have been  860 ceasefire violations  in 2017, 271 in 2016 and 387 in 2015. This has further drifted the two countries apart from each other. The neighbours have ratcheted up their old rhetoric on Kashmir. Pakistan has returned to its historical stand on the dispute which makes the UN resolutions as the bedrock for Kashmir solution. This is a far cry from the former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf’s radically flexible position on the settlement of the state. His four point proposals which envisaged a Kashmir solution without any radical geographical modifications and New Delhi’s gradual warming up to the ideas have all but vanished from the discourse. This has created a situation fraught with possibilities of a larger conflict between the neighbours, both nuclear armed.  The best course available to the two countries is to resume their engagement. The dialogue is the  way  forward. This is the only way they can address their differences and move towards a resolution of their long-standing issues. Only such an outcome is a guarantee of a sustainable peace in the region. This needs the leaders of the two countries to show statesmanship and engage for the well-being and the prosperity of the region.

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