The roller coaster relationship | Pakistan Today

The roller coaster relationship

  • Ups and downs all the way  

A lot of effort has gone into laying the ground work for peace in South Asia. Those who initiated the moves  in the direction comprised politicians, civil society activists, leaders of business community, media persons and even retired military  personnel from both sides. There were times when the goal seemed to be within reach. Then suddenly something happened that washed away the hard work that had been undertaken by peaceniks from both sides in  terms of hundreds of man hours  spent in discussions  and  thousands of kilometers traversed.

The failure comes as there is another force simultaneously at work with a vested interest in maintaining  the status quo. This comprises elements from within the establishment and the extremists on both sides ofthe Pak-Idnia border who believe that mutual hostility provides them a guarantee to prosper. Kargil misadventure thus synchronised with the Lahore Resolution signed by Nawaz Sharif and Vajpayee; the composite dialogue ended with  Mumbai terrorist attacks and another attempt made next year by prime ministers Yusuf Raza Gilani and Manmohan Singh at Sharm-al Sheikh was foiled by the BJP leadership and  a chauvinistic  section of  the Indian media.  The attempts during the last decade by the PPP and PML-N governments  met the same fate   on account of  border incidents  or  attacks by non state actors.

Gen Bajwa told the Senate in   December last year that  the  military is willing to support the  government’s peace talks with India. In March this year the  Indian military attaché and his team were invited to the Pakistan Day military parade. This was followed by  an agreement to restore cease­fire on the LoC and Working Boundary. Imran Khan called upon  India to hold talks at the Foreign Minister’s level. New Delhi  first agreed to talks  only to take a U-turn  a day after. Whether it  was on account of Indian elections or the killings of Indian security personnel, it is the recurrence of a familiar  pattern. With the political and military leadership apparently  on the same page, they are in a  position to rein  in the forces opposed to peace on Pakistan’s side.  This would  be work half done.