Hope for the Best?

Greatly awaited and most imperative face-to-face interaction between the Indian Premier AB Vajpayee and President of Pakistan Gen. Pervez Musharraf-“eventually-“got translated into a reality-“beaming to the globe-“signs of ‘hope for the best’-“in the times ahead.

Lasting a little over an hour, the meeting of Vajpayee with President Musharraf was set on an explicit request by the Indian Prime Minister-“who is in Islamabad for the SAARC Summit. This was the first formal contact between the two leaders after Agra Summit-“almost two years ago.

Though, Pakistan’s foreign office has phrased this episode-“as ‘a positive development’-“facilitating ‘a process of parleys, eventually culminating into a composite dialogue’-“by all perceptions of realism, such a finale evaluation is nothing outside an extraordinary conjecture.

Significantly, whereas President Musharraf in his Banquet speech, while eulogizing India’s zest for ‘amity via socio-economic ties’-“simultaneously-“did overtly emphasize the need for removing the basic irritants-“which have been plaguing amity between the two nuke-neighbors, the Indian Premier, subsequently opted to speak nothing-“beyond his typical rhetoric ‘for continuation of the process of contacts ‘-“mainly focusing his ‘fascinating allure’ for socio-economic uplift of the region-“South Asia.

Applying India’s decades-old style of placing in abeyance the basic issue-“with the Kashmir atop-“Vajpayee pursued the ‘policies’ of his political ancestors by keeping mum on this core issue-“and instead came out with a novel avowal that ‘new questions were raised, which are demanding new answers.’

The singular ray of hope that surfaces from his outlook is-“his call that India and Pakistan-“‘should work together by understanding mutual problems to seek better solutions.’

A fair and judicious appraisal of India’s mindset, manifest the veracity that such a perception is neither new nor astonishing. As is indexed in the history of this region, India has-“invariably-“been selecting for such somersaults, perceptibly ‘to gain time’-“with a hideous aspire to make perilous problems-“linger-on.

It is evident from the text of Vajpayee’s statement-“he aired, a day before his arrival in Pakistan-“wherein he plainly ruled-out any possibility of having any meeting with the apex leadership of Pakistan-“even on the sidelines of the SAARC moot. Yet, he took a sudden swing by requesting for a meeting with the President of Pakistan.

As a splendid and generous host, President Musharraf gave a nod, obliging the explicit request-“yet, with all sincerity for a durable peace in South Asia-“did convey his message for the solution of the conflicts-“in an amiable ambiance, which can be made possible only through a meaningful dialogue and evocative negotiations.

Every realist would accumulate that Musharraf’s reference was towards the Kashmir dispute, which is the root-cause of the risky settings in this region.

Although, a clued-up Vajpayee did understand the essence of Musharraf’s potent viewpoint-“yet, he [Vajpayee] did not make even a stray hint towards the core issue. This stands as evidence that India does not seem in a mood to talk about the bona fide topics.

With such a stance, how can he justify his words for an affluent South Asia-“which he narrated at the SAARC assemblage?

Before stepping onto the soil of Pakistan, Vajpayee had said in New Delhi that he was ‘ready to talk on Kashmir issue’ but echoed his country’s illicit claim that ‘Kashmir is its integral part.’

With ruthless amassing of arsenal of mass-destruction from everywhere-“more exclusively-“from its close allies like Israel and Russia-“whereby-“New Delhi shall be getting death-defying weapons worth 2 billion from Moscow and to the tune of a billion from Tel Aviv-“every pragmatic soul has a right to lift eye-brows-“as to what for this magnitude of collection of armory-“even at the cost of its’ own populous, a large number of which lives below poverty-line-“is being mounted-“as India is ‘apparently looking for socio-economic settings, backed by peace in the region-“and does not have any foe-“any where.’

With such a scenario, Vajpayee’s ‘delight for continuity of a process of Indo-Pakistan interaction’ in nothing except a fresh somersault, which openly represents typical Indian state of mind of calculated uncertainty to hoodwink the world community through hollow outbursts and to appease the extremists within India by taking an affront with Pakistan at the same time.

His previous expression of willingness for dialogue with Pakistan and later ruling out its possibility, however, manifested the traditional Indian dubiousness and cunningness.

Amid intensification of a reign of terror in the Indian held-part of the charismatic Himalayan State of Jammu and Kashmir and India’s constant evasion from a dialogue on Kashmir dispute, once again proves that the Indian leaders seldom honor their words and change their views according to the situation without remorse or repentance.

Let there be no illusion in anyone’s mind that peace, progress and poverty alleviation in South Asia squarely hinges on the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

The people of both the countries-“specifically in India-“have endured untold sufferings due to confrontation and conflicts between the two countries over the past half a century.

The fact is that the Kashmir issue has remained unresolved primarily due to the Indian intransigence and belligerence. Time has, however, come when there is no escape from seeking settlement of this dispute-“preferably in a peaceful mode.

Prima facie, Vajpayee does have the image, will and keenness to promote peace between the two countries so as to make them live as good neighbors. With this sanguinity, one can simply hope that he will try to resolve the Kashmir issue-“of-course in the light of the ground realities-“as this has been and persists as the root cause of tension in South Asia.

With Pakistan’s peace overtures, a heavier responsibility, thus devolves on Mr. Vajpayee in this milieu.

As far Pakistan, it has consistently sought resumption of the stalled Indo-Pak dialogue to resolve Kashmir and other outstanding issues.

The world, therefore, looks forward to a positive move by Mr. Vajpayee to break the impasse so as to usher in a new era of peace, goodwill and sincerity by ensuring a tangible breakthrough on Kashmir before he embarks on the voyage-“to his home, lest he gets his aver and emblem of being-“‘a man of peace’-“evaporated.