Indo-Pak Rebonding-a Dream?

It seems as if over the past years, terrorism and Pakistan have become synonymous with each other. Since time immemorial, there has always been some issue or the other cropping up, which proves it difficult for the Indo-Pak ties to become amicable. India has always proposed plans for its settlement but religious fundamentalism, corruption, feudalism and other prejudices are so ingrained in the culture of Pakistan that it is impossible for it to survive long as a nation.

Pakistan is a country where it is not possible for democracy to last for too long. Since Pakistan achieved its independence, Generals have been running the state in a more efficient and responsible manner than the democratic leaders. Thus, the implementation of democratic values will add to the already-prevailing chaos.

The External Affairs Minister, Dr.Pranab Mukherjee is slated to visit Pakistan on May 21, 2008. The recent Jaipur blasts and the cross border infiltration are bound to dominate the agenda. The Indian government is resisting itself to blame the Pak government entirely for spreading cross border terrorism. Pakistan, like India, has been a victim of terrorism. It has often been termed as a breeding ground for the terrorists to initiate their plans. However, the recent assassination of Benazir Bhutto has left many questions unanswered.

Is Pakistan really worth the blame or are we being too harsh? This soon-to-be-held meeting might bring about positive implications and is expected to answer some of these questions. Though such meetings have happened in the past, there haven’t been radical reforms regarding bilateral relations or any restrictions in dealing with terrorism. Kashmir has always been described as the core issue behind the communalism prevailing in India. India has given a nod to the composite dialogue between the two countries, but it prefers to leave the Kashmir issue this time and focus on more significant issues like trade and commerce. The Foreign Secretaries of both the countries are expected to meet today to set the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting which will mark India’s first high level contact with the new Pakistan government.

A few months back, George W Bush suggested the coming together of Musharaff-Bhutto Government, but after the assassination of Bhutto, the whole situation became topsy-turvy. He recently said, “Kashmir is ripe for resolution now”, elaborating that he could see major and significant developments in the Indo-Pak relations and that he was elated to see the progress in their talks on Kashmir.

After the recent formation of the coalition government in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif opted out by after failing to agree with the terms of his coalition partners over how to reinstate judges who were removed by Musharaff. Sharif, in spite of his resignation was not against the civilian government. He ensured that such a government would only last for a short period of time. Although there have been talks to sack Musharaff, there haven’t been large numbers to impeach him, as the requirement is two-thirds majority. The government is keen to restore the judges but this has been effective to no avail. This step has proved to be a major setback to democracy and stability. India has always made efforts to rebuild its ties by implementation of various projects. It has pressed for the enlargement of the bus services and also for the speedy operation of truck services between Srinagar- Muzzafarabad. Our country has been constantly trying to boost trade but due to lack of interest from the Pakistan’s side, this initiative has been delayed.

To encourage more travel between the two countries, liberalization is also on the agenda. Such initiatives have been proposed time and again, but one must understand that this is not a one sided affair. We require mutual co-operation to implement such projects and put them to action, and this can only be done if these plans are beneficial to both sides and help to resolve issues which act as a barrier between the two countries. If this happens, Indo-Pak will be an abode to peace and harmony.

Geetika Sachdev

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