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Very tumultuous relations

Very tumultuous relations

Nuclear-armed Asian neighbours, India and Pakistan have had particularly difficult relations since the time of their inception as sovereign nations but tensions have lately assumed a hitherto unseen extent leading to a diplomatic deadlock. The violent Partition in 1947, Kashmir, and numerous conflicts big and small – all along primarily communal lines have come to be the locus of relations between India and Pakistan which is defined largely by hostility and suspicion. In the most recent times, diplomatic relations have been severely downgraded with the Pakistani Ambassador to India being recalled and the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan getting expelled from there. War mongering was the trend and tone right after India suffered the deadliest peace time attack since Independence this year after a Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber rammed an explosive laden car on February 14 and murdering 40 Indian security personnel. This incident resulted in a cycle of offence and counter-offence between the two countries, the air strike by India in Pakistani territory being the most prominent one, especially in the wake of Wing Commander Abhinandan Vardhaman's capture and later his release. Pakistan's terror tactics and its state policy to breed terrorism against primarily India has globally earned Pakistan a bad reputation. Diplomacy, too, has come to a difficult point as Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar expressed bluntly in an international forum regarding Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's opinion piece for The New York Times. Pakistan openly practices terrorism, financing and recruiting militant groups and till the time Islamabad does not reign in this tendency, any talk between India and Pakistan will only be superficial and ultimately futile because the very basis of problem between the two countries is terrorism coming from Pakistan. The Narendra Modi-led BJP government has been instrumental in altering the equation between the Asian neighbours. With remarkable efforts made initially ease tensions and bring the two nations closer, Pakistan's unrelenting policy to deploy terror has brought matters to the point where talks of war came as easy as drawing-room conversations and war against Pakistan became a hot subject of feverish nationalism. Obviously, such public sentiments do little good to the nation and its forces. A war is a only a measure of loss, the extent of which is decided by the warring parties. Going a step beyond conventional warfare, and given the prospects of a nuclear war, the talks of which were very quickly escalated by propaganda and popular media rants, Pakistan says in an assuring tone that it will never be the first one to start a war with India. Going by Pakistan's policy, it is to "bleed India by a thousand cuts". Pakistan's policy against India has never been so straight and has only ever been openly clandestine; and Kashmir for its dominant Muslim polulation has been the scapegoat for the last mant decades. Prime Minister Imran Khan went on record to explain, amid tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours over Kashmir, that "We will never ever start the war. Both Pakistan and India are nuclear powers and if tension escalates the world will face danger," Saying that war is not a solution to any problem, the Pakistani Prime Minister said this while addressing a gathering of the Sikh community. The Sikh community is now a new angle in the boiling relations between India and Pakistan with the Kartarpur Corridor project supposedly moving towards completion. Kartarpur is in the Narowal district of Punjab province of Pakistan, about 4.7 kilometres from the Pakistan-India border, so near that it can be physically seen from the Indian side. Indian Sikh pilgrims undertake the journey to this Gurudwara via a longer route into Pakistan. In this initiative to make Indian Sikhs undertake this pilgrimage, the governments of India and Pakistan, before the Kargil war broke out, came together to allow visa-free passage to the pilgrims. Two decades, one war, numerous skirmishes, and different governments down the line, neither India nor Pakistan are the same. As matters stand officially, unless Pakistan does anything about its terror nurssaries, India cannot expect any concrete moving forward. There are security concerns galore and any decision the government takes in the direction of mending ties with Pakistan, it is the common people on both sides of the border that will experience the effect of decisions the most. As much as it is a challenge to India's diplomacy, relations with Pakistan also affect internal matters within India.

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