For the sake of regional peace

For the sake of regional peace

Whose responsibility is to create conducive atmosphere for Indo-Pak peace ?

"It is time to bury the past  and  move forward." This is a combination of the catchy phrases which instantly appeal to the mind of the readers and listeners. But I am sure  that Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff Gen.  Qamar Javed Bajwa  must have used  these phrases with a sense of purpose if he really meant that there should be regional peace and this particular key should be used to unlock the real potential  of the region. He used these words in his speech from the podium on the second day ( March 18, 2021) of Islamabad Security Dialogue that reflected on the growing security challenges in the region. It was rightly observed in the ISD that the challenges are not confined to borders or the internal   situations. The whole complex of the security situation has become more complex  and the challenges cannot be addressed singlehandedly by any nation despite immense geo-strategic importance. Pakistan fits into that definition.

The phrases made it to the headlines – the words were attractive and rife with a message of  attempting peace and dialogue between two nuclear powered nations sitting in the immediate neighborhood of each other. I am sure that the things won't stop at the headline making exercise, perhaps Gen. Bajwa also did not intend to do that. He wanted to deliver a message that much can be hoped for improving the ties between Delhi and Islamabad if the track and the goals of peace are followed with mutual understanding.

Before reading further meaning into what Gen. Bajwa said, it is better to look at the timings. It might not have been a coincidence that the ISD was planned within days after the virtual QUAD summit ( March 12, 2021) in which the top most leaders of the US, India, Japan and Australia offered glimpses into how can they work together to ensure better security of the Asia-Pacific region and to resist the expansion forces. It also might not have been a coincidence that Gen. Bajwa said what he said on the eve of the visit of the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin India. It was, however, a very diplomatically sophisticated attempt to tell Washington that Pakistan cannot be ignored, rather it deserved  a better prism through which it should be looked at, because it holds key to peace in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan part of the speech, if read carefully, makes it clear that the kind of template he has in mind while talking of Indo-Pak peace .

He said: "We intend to leverage our vital geostrategic location for ours own, regional and global benefit. Our robust role in current quest for peace in Afghanistan is proof of our goodwill and understanding of our global and moral obligations. Our close collaboration and crucial support for the peace process has led to the historic agreement between Taliban and US and paved the way for intra-Afghan dialogue."

The situation in Afghanistan and Kashmir may not be the same, but there are certain things that bear close similarities. One, it is Pakistan that controls Taliban in Afghanistan, in Kashmir it holds the strings of militant groups. In Afghanistan, it has created a situation where its role has become quite important in the situation that prevails in the war-torn country. The violence in Afghanistan went up several notches after the Doha agreement of February last year. Taliban was the main culprit.

One thing more that Gen. Bajwa could do if he really means business in forging peace  with India  is to undertake the exercise of creating conducive atmosphere. He has asked India to create conducive conditions, particularly in Kashmir. It would be better if Gen  Bajwa and Pakistani establishment as such roll back all its subversive activities from Kashmir. It needs to be spelled out in words and demonstrative action.

Here, two things are very important. There is no denying the fact that peace between India and Pakistan is not only national or subcontinental need, it is an international necessity. And, that from the Indian point of view, and rightly so, would keep international players off breathing down Delhi and Islamabad's neck. India is being lectured about  early Assembly elections  and human rights. Pakistan hears it time and again that it is playing double game; it is not taking adequate action against the terrorists and the universities of terror  that are  flourishing there .

Second, there is a need to  assess the situation in both the countries by their respective governments quite earnestly. The rhetoric has to be matched with actions on ground. The geostrategic advantages  alone do not bring  other nations to table. The efforts have to be mutual.

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