Millennium Post

Six years on, little change on ground

It was SAARCasm galore when on the sixth anniversary of 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif stayed away from each other  fearing bad photo opportunity. They shook hands a day later, but by then civilians, soldiers and militants had been killed in Arnia area of the international border along Jammu, during heavy firing between Indian Army and infiltrators. While the two premiers keep at their on-and-off cold war, innocents in both the countries lose their lives to grinding militant machinery.

Islamabad still refuses to cooperate on the 26/11 investigations, despite the dossier firmly in their possession for a while now. It refuses to question Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind, despite India’s repeated overtures. On the other hand, the mutual cold shoulder exchanged between Modi and Sharif set the tone of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, as the summit in Kathmandu suffers the sulking honchos of the two most powerful countries in the bloc. The old familiar cycle of telegenic camaraderie, leading to national hope and excitement, but quickly falling back to shrillness of tone, egged on by frustration of the continued cycle of violence, is by now ingrained in Indo-Pak psyche, which our leaders cleverly exploit to the hilt for narrow political gains and shindig.

In fact, the toxic equilibrium is key to understanding what New Delhi and Islamabad expect from each other. The continued enmity has kept South Asia on the rocks and broken down many an effort from either side to engage in meaningful bilateral dialogue. Blocking key agreements in SAARC, such as integrating power grids, improving rail and road connections, can only be interpreted as Pakistan’s desperate attempt to stonewall a path of progressive cooperation and greater involvement with South Asia, since it jeopardizes its own destructive agenda of continued proxy war against India.

That the recently held first phase of assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir saw impressive turnouts hasn’t gone down well with elements in Islamabad who profit from this indefinite instability. We need a climate change as far as Indo-Pak relations are concerned, but that needs mutual will to power.           

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