No trade sans Kashmir!

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A petite–yet significant-wave of conflicting perceptions vis-é-vis the possible parleys with India has lifts a lot of eye-brows on Pakistan’s future course. For instance, only a few days ago Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri and Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar came out with statements–obviously divergent in nature–over the contentious and sensitive issue of trade with India.

While the Foreign Minister, during his address to a meeting of South Asian Centre for Policy Studies in Lahore, offered immediate restoration of transit facilities to India, Commerce Minister told a news briefing in Islamabad the same day that no trade with India sans progress on political issues.

One tends to believe that the offer of the transit facilities to India is a well-considered policy of the Government as it comes from a Minister who is fully competent to make such announcements. However, trade being the domain of the Commerce Minister, no one can dispute his contentions as well. Therefore, it is strange that the two have come out with contradictory statements on the issue.

This shows that spokesmen of different ministries of the Government of Pakistan represent their point of view and there seems to be lack of coordination and harmony amongst them.

In our view, trade with India is not as simple a matter as considered by the Foreign Minister. The issue is deeply linked with the Kashmir problem and that is why despite repeated demands by India no Pakistani Government could offer concessions in trade while Kashmir was bleeding.

This particular time is all the more sensitive because Indians have launched an unprecedented military operation in Occupied Kashmir to eliminate all signs of resistance to their illegal occupation. India, for the first time, is using even helicopter gunships against people who are demanding their right to self-determination as enshrined in UN resolution.

Peace overtures by India notwithstanding, any move aimed at entering into a closer economic relationship with India would send wrong signals to the Kashmir people.

With this backdrop, statement of the Commerce Minister is reflective of the traditional stand of the country and wishes of the people. President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali have–time n’ again–aired similar sentiments on different occasions and made it clear that normalization of relations with India is possible only if New Delhi shows seriousness for resolution of the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. This being so, the over enthusiasm of the Foreign Minister is out of place.

Secondly, there are already apprehensions that the latest Indian moves are aimed at securing a transit route for greater and meaningful interaction with Afghanistan where Indians are trying to gain foothold both economically and militarily. Under these circumstances, we ought to adopt a mature approach and must not show any undue haste in pronouncing judgments that could have serious implications for the long-term economic and political interests of the country.

The nations’ interests–need to have an apex priority as–the most vital n’ pivotal podium of Pakistan’s national interests–hallmarked by its fabulous foreign policy–which is required to shielded with the same zest, it has won world-wide acclaims n’ acknowledgement–as the splendid sources of peace inspiration for peace n’ tranquility.

Even the world powers–like the United States have accepted this reality with delight n’ allure–thus its’ an apposite time to take the pragmatic dazzling image of Pakistan–before the comity of nations–by eschewing different mind-set, of-course by opting for a standpoint that is free from all sorts contradictions with a state of identical out-look.

Such a sense–blessed with fragrance of harmony–shall thwart wicked designs’ of enemies–wherever the dwell. Else an elfin word–said by a cabinet minister [ought to be mature enough to meet the swelling challenging] shall ‘fascinate’ the enemy like India, which can’t be conveniently viewed by a mind’s eye.

The author is a noted journalist, political analyst and ex-Director News Pakistan TV.

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