A Fêted n’ Dubious Pick


Amidst hue n’ cry by the Indian extremists, India and Pakistan seem all set to resume diplomatic and transportation links after a freeze of nearly one and one-half years. But chances of any significant change in the largely frosty relationship between the two nations are considered slim, obviously due to India’s antagonistic mindset.

Though AB Vajpayee–in an atypical move–beamed a thaw on the soil of the fascinating Himalayan State of Jammu n’ Kashmir–during his visit to the forcibly held by India a part of the dazzling n’ magnificent State last month, with ‘an offer of talks’ with Pakistan, a move U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage treats as “far-reaching”, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali reacted spontaneously n’ positively to the overture, and both sides prima facie have agreed to resume diplomatic ties and reopen air and rail links.

The grand gesture by Pakistan is virtually based on yet another effort to patch up the relationship between the two nuclear neighbours–with the solution of all the issues, of-course the core dispute of Kashmir atop. This is a pragmatic facet–well acknowledged by the comity of nations since almost over five decades. Though no one can assess the real mentality of the AB’s mindset, yet the realism exists that the solution of the Kashmir issue is the only solid key to ensure a durable peace in South Asia–much needed for the affluence of its over one-n’-a-half-billion plus populous.

History stands witness that the two countries have fought two perilous wars n’ even if the third one would have erupted due to New Delhi’s hostile posture, the issue would have remained intact. Such a scenario can be envisioned even for times ahead, if India does not bend before the global will for peace in this part of the world, which can be ensured only via the resolution of the Kashmir Issue, in line with the UN resolutions–adopted more than a dozen times–with a pledge for grant of the birth right of self-determination to the people of Jammu n’ Kashmir, as is enshrined in the UN charter and committed by the world body–with one voice.

Analysts’ eye-brows stand lifted on the current setting–explicitly–in the wake of the Indian ‘zest’ due to a realistic vision that if a moderate Nehru could back-out from the hefty ‘Indian commitments of Kashmir’, how can one expect a ‘fabulous n’ alluring’ words from ABV–a devotee of the extremist group RSS, the offshoot of which–BJP is now-a-days steering the helms of affair. As far Mr. Vajpayee, his credentials are–equally–doubtful. The reason is that after doing his masters in political science–back in 1942–he opted to join Hindu Sabha–an opponent of the Sub-continents’ division at the end of the British rule–instead of the influential Congress party which had–overtly–accepted the partition plan. This feature, if it exists even today would manifest the actuality that Vajpayee has not so far reconciled with the dazzling n’ glittering emergence of Pakistan on the world atlas. If so, how can one expect a bona fide n’ inmost positive feedback from New Delhi?

If its so, the best course for Vajpayee is to come out with an open-mind–at least for the sake of his famished people–by bringing in a truthful change in his approach by extending a hand of friendship towards Pakistan from the core of his heart to remove all types of hazards like the solution of the Kashmir issue–instead of speaking with reservations n’ phrases like ‘ifs ‘n buts’ plus getting into fanatic missile tests.

As far Pakistan, it has time n’ again extended a hand of friendship with India. Not due to any weakness–but absolutely in the best interest of a lasting peace in South Asia, this has been facing a risky course–almost ever since the advent of BJP-led set-up in India. President Mushrraf’s sincere desire for the solution of longed disputes–with Kashmir as the foremost–is as clear as crystal. He has time n’ again urged the need for a dialogue at any time, any level and any where. It is thus an apposite time for Vajpayee to translate his words into a reality by accepting an amiable course instead of a skirmish-type environ.

At the same time, it is vital for the world powers–specifically–for the United States to take practical measures to achieving the cherished goal of a prosperous South Asia, as is now perceptible from Washington’s’ allure–with Powell, Armitage n’ Rocca’s visit to the region to facilitate to new setting–with justice n’ fair-play as its podium. By now analysts are cautioning not to expect a radically different Indo-Pakistani relationship, at least not immediately. There is a perception that the relationship is simply moving back to its usually frosty state. I think this is just a turning away from an extremely chilly and frozen relationship back to a little normalcy. But it is certainly not a breakthrough, nothing that will lead to a sustained peace process, unless efforts are made by both sides–specifically on the part of New Delhi–to overcome the gap in their positions. In a way it’s at the moment more like a backing away from a heightened level of tension.

Virtually, Mr. Vajpayee must come in a zestful way, because his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, espouses a Hindu nationalist ideology and he has already come under criticism from the opposition for his new opening to Pakistan. One hopes that AB withstands with a realistic will to thwart the in-house ‘pressures’– and to open vistas of peace, progress n’ prosperity–provided, he himself has a nice mind and means to ‘do what he has said in Srinagar’–obviously by eschewing all types of tricks n’ ploys with one pretext or the other. As such an outlook shall fetch for India nothing except a sense of worldwide loath towards New Delhi–eventually putting the present efforts once again into perils–not for South Asia alone but for every human specie–dwelling beyond oceanic. Isn’t it so?

The author is a noted journalist, political analyst and ex-Director News Pakistan TV.