The South Asian region is at the cusp of economic transformation which would improve dramatically the lives of people in both countries. But this prospect is clouded by uncertainty in relations between India and Pakistan. Continuing conflict will ensure the subcontinent misses the bus, once again.
A little more than a year after the tragedy and terror of Mumbai, the freeze between India and Pakistan shows signs of coming to an end. Foreign secretary-level talks are supposed to be followed up by Union home minister P Chidambaram meeting Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik on the sidelines of the coming SAARC summit in Islamabad. There are unlikely to be any concrete results from these first few meetings - nor should there be expectations of any - but the fact that New Delhi and Islamabad are ready to sit at the same table again is a step forward in itself.
New Delhi seems to have judged it to a nicety. Refusal to engage in dialogue after 26/11 served its purpose. New Delhi's justified intransigence focused international pressure on Islamabad as never before, and Islamabad has taken some action against Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and others connected to the Lashkar-e-Taiba. But New Delhi's disengagement has now reached the point of diminishing returns. Among other things, it could lead to India being sidelined vis-a-vis the developing Afghanistan situation. Given the growing consensus between the US and Pakistan on how to approach that problem, New Delhi must find a way to work with Islamabad to safeguard its own interests there.
There's scope for both Indian and Pakistani interests to be accommodated in Afghanistan, within the framework of a democratic and unitary government there. After all, a radical religious regime installed in Kabul is not going to be in Pakistan's interests either. While the pacing and scope of the talks can be left to the parties concerned, there is no reason why they cannot eventually embrace all the issues at stake. Thus talks could not only be about business and cross-border ties, or the necessity of curbing jihadi groups, they could lead on to Afghanistan and Kashmir. Agreement on Kashmir was well advanced when President Musharraf was in power, but the process was interrupted by his downfall. That process could be taken forward again. A resolution of Kashmir, together with Pakistan coming to terms with its internal jihadi demons, would reverse years of bitter hostility between the two nations and initiate a new era for the subcontinent's youth. It's with that hope that this newspaper's Aman Ki Asha initiative was launched, together with the Jang Group in Pakistan.
Courtesy: Times of India
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
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The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
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