The Indo-Pak antagonism can be rightly known as seven decades old rot but not so deep a conflict that cannot be settled amicably with the proper application of mind and negotiating skills.
India and Pakistan exist with a complete hostile mindset against each other for the last seven decades—from the day of their emergence in 1947. Several overt and covert wars, numerous inimical undercover operations and bashing each other at almost every international forums has been a routine for the last seventy years irrespective of the circumstances who is in power at Islamabad and Delhi. Much has been written and said about Indo-Pak hostilities. Aggression against each other has practically turned into a sort of belief within these two nations and only intensity of belligerence keeps varying with every change in the guard or emerging political situation. For the last several years, this enmity has turned worst except few friendly bashes and encounters either to please political constituencies back home or to stage-manage few photo-op sessions for personal image enhancement of leaders on either side. However, the last more than a year has proved even worse for Indo- Pak relations. Minus diplomatic relations every channel seems to have turned sour. Occasional skirmishes on borders have turned into much wider fights, aggressive demeaning propaganda from both sides have reached to ‘Goebbelsian lie’ proportions and each other’s foreign offices are firing regular salvos to belittle and demonize the other one. Both are fighting covert wars beyond their own borders and pump millions of taxpayer’s money (otherwise meant for uplifting their own people) into such dirty war.
Nawaz Sharif Prime Minister of Pakistan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are known for their exceptional politically motivated behavior and have been blessed enough to experience fortuitous encounters even in the shadow of most charged atmosphere of hostilities to fuel their political fortune and surprise their people back home. May 26, 2014, was a historic day in the ‘blow hot blow’ cold relationship of India and Pakistan when Nawaz Sharif on the invitation of Narendra Modi attended the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India. Again on Dec 25, 2015, in an unexpected diplomatic gesture, Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed at the Lahore airport in Pakistan from where he went to attend Nawaz Sharif’s granddaughter’s wedding. And now eighteen months after seemingly affectionate meeting in Lahore Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart came face-to-face at Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit at Astana. A simple, chance handshake at Kazakhstan’s capital can be termed as another unintended meet like one in November 2015 on the sidelines of Paris Climate Summit but the present encounter is significant in many ways in the environment of existing escalated resentment between the two countries. A handshake in the backdrop of intensified diplomatic confrontation on all fronts and intense armed conflict on borders cannot and should not be brushed aside as an ephemeral meet, instead, it can be and surely should be examined as an opportunity to break the deadlock and avoid any future face-off. If this break is explored in the right perspective and proper homework is done through diplomatic and track two channels the occasion can prove as an icebreaker in a frozen indo-Pak relationship and the existing disruption in an overall geopolitical situation in the region.
The Indo-Pak antagonism can be rightly known as seven decades old rot but not so deep a conflict that cannot be settled amicably with the proper application of mind and negotiating skills. Honestly speaking the bigger problem with Indo-Pak bitter relations is that of ego, an ego that emanates from scheming unjust partition scripted by the British in 1947 leaving behind a trail of acrimony and mistrust to avenge their own unceremonious departure from the Asian subcontinent. Unfortunately, now the seven decades old awful ‘ego’ has made worst inroads into the body and soul of both the nations and at occasions is misunderstood or compulsively construed as part of patriotic discourse—jingoism to be precise. And the crux of this whole ego-mania is Kashmir, an issue that has pained Kashmir and its people more than the warring nations. In the best interest of its people India and Pakistan and their leadership should shun their king-size egos; learn from past experiences and use such gifted chance meeting at Astana as a run-up to the mutual effort for resolving all existing issues in a peaceful manner to the best satisfaction of all stakeholders. Astana, Lahore or Paris encounters apparently look very insignificant coincidences but surely hold key to resolving long pending discord between two nations but only if statesmanship prevails over petty political considerations.