Tensions Persist With a Ray of Hope

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With breathing ambience of high tension in South Asia, India’s bigoted act of airing its Agni ballistic missile, is nothing except an awful act of colossal degree, especially when frenzied global efforts are under way to de-escalate the Indo-Pakistan tension. Pakistan has justifiably voiced strong concern over this latest chauvinistic Indian venture. It is even more ominous as it may exacerbate the tension that grips the region.

On this episode, a spokesman of Pakistan’s foreign office has fittingly pointed out that the timings of the test are particularly deplorable as the test has taken place at a moment when tensions are already high on account of the concentration of Indian forces on Pakistan’s borders, adding that this test also has regional implications. Pakistan hopes that the international community will take appropriate notice of India’s unwise behaviour which is prejudicial to the pursuit of peace and stability in South Asia. It is now to be seen whether the international community reacts with sufficient de facto angst rather than goes through a routine voicing of regret and nothing more. One hopes that the comity of nations decides to indict New Delhi for pointlessly keeping the pot boiling in a nuclear battlefield when forces are facing each other in a stand-off position.

As far Pakistan, it has capabilities to match those of India. Pakistan also has abundant means to defend its soil. However, Islamabad will not be provoked into abandoning the course of restraint and responsibility, a hallmark of its approach that has been commended by the peace-loving world. The fact is that with narcissistic and blind amassing of the Indian troops along the borders of Pakistan, clouds of a soaring tension continue to overcast the horizons of the South Asia region with a ray of hope that the enormity of a catastrophe éemerging from the constant Indian arrogance – may jolt the New Delhi rulers to accept the global voice for solving all the problems with Pakistan through a process of instant dialogue. This, if happens can pave a solid way for opening vistas for scenario of a lasting peace in this part of the World.

In spite of earnest initiatives by Pakistan to de-escalate the existing tension, the Indians have, so far callously opted to pop in utmost pressure on Pakistan to generate a perilously volatile situation in the whole region. Recalling its High Commissioner, scaling down to half the diplomatic staff in New Delhi, restricting their movement, closing down Samjhota Express and Lahore-Delhi bus services as well as threats to abrogate the 1960 Indus Water Treaty are a few examples of the blatant ingredients of the signals, beamed recently, depicting the ferocious Indian designs. The waft towards war is also being prompted by the dynamics of war hysteria, unleashed in the first instance by the lashing tongues of the Indian hard liners.

The Indian electronic media did not stay away and resorted to an antagonistic propaganda crusade against Pakistan. It was in fact a calculated attempt to swell the war hysteria through the utterances of the participants of news and current affairs slots of the Indian media who have been breathing fire and spitting malevolence and venom. India is out to malign Pakistan in one way or the other. This typical Indian tendency é based on acrimony é was climaxed to a large – scale deployment of the Indian forces along the borders of Pakistan and the LoC in Kashmir. Most of these troops were shifted even from the far flung areas of India to put the peace in peril.

On the contrary, the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf continues to make his determined sincere efforts for ensuring that the peace in the region does not get disturbed. He has been working swiftly to promote appreciation of Pakistan’s reasonably justified stand in the face of India’s military build-up and threats. The President remained in regular touch with world leaders and undertook visits abroad for highest-level contacts. Notwithstanding India’s glacial mind-set at the Kathmandu SAARC Summit, President Musharraf even expected for opportunities to interact with the Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee solely for the promotion of tranquillity in the region. He therefore extended yet another gesture of goodwill by shaking hand with Mr. Vajpayee, which was highly acclaimed by all at the summit as well as by leaders of the world. Thus the drive by India to create a war psychosis was to some extent countered, with widely appreciated moves in favour of a peaceful dialogue.

The President took a bold step when he addressed the nation on January 12, which had enormous viewers in all parts of the world. No doubt, it was the most frank, straight and prolific statements of policy, which will be listed as a golden chapter in Pakistan’s history. He affirmed é in categorical words é that Pakistan is strongly opposed to terrorism in all forms and manifestations. This was an explicit commitment which he fulfilled by taking stern action against the extremist groups, which were banned, their offices sealed and all means of their resources jammed. Besides reiterating his resolve to make Pakistan a modern Islamic welfare state, the President also pin-pointed the measures for bringing the religious schools – madaris é across the country into main stream of the education system, which will equip these institutions with teachings of contemporary needs including essential subjects as well as the much-needed information technology.

President Musharraf also emphatically declared that the moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmir cause by Pakistan would continue. He made an avid appeal to the global community to step forward and help bring the state terrorism, let loose by India in Kashmir to an immediate end. Of-course the nucleus of the President’s speech was to help facilitate steps for defusing the current state of tension, heightened by the Indian armed forces build-up against Pakistan. It also sought de-escalation along the border for paving a way for peace. However the Indian stance, so far remains negative and arrogant as has been its traditional approach to hoodwink the ground realities. Its un-called far and illicit gripe that the withdrawal of its troops would follow the end of what it calls the “cross-border terrorism” indicates that it has no intentions of creating an atmosphere, supportive to a peaceful dialogue.

The international community can judge how far President Pervez Musharraf has gone to shrink tensions and to uphold peace. Yet the feed-back from the Vajpayee regime has, by now been assessed as hostile, adamant and intransigent. The BJP set-up, riddled with scandals and obsessed with clinging to power does not seem to be ready to bow before the bona fide facts. It fully knows – like its predecessors é that Kashmir is the core issue between India and Pakistan which is required to be solved in accordance with the United Nations resolutions, reflecting the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. It is a decades-old pledge, given to the Kashmiris by the comity of the nations. India, too had agreed to grant Kashmiris their birth right of self-determination.

It is evident from capacious publications, authored by eminent historians about the Indian commitments on Kashmir. If it thinks that it can now dupe the world opinion by resorting to delaying tactics or use of force, it would be nothing except a sheer wishful idea. New Delhi is, in sync aware of the fact that even with a despotic era, based on horrors, atrocities, brutalities, third rate intimidations and above all flagrant violations of human rights, it has shamefully failed to win over the hearts of the valiant and undaunted Kashmiri people, who are engaged in an indigenous struggle against the Indian occupation relentlessly, adding a new chapter of gallantry in their history with the advent of every dawn. They are blessed with a righteous pledge to fight the Indian invaders till their total exit from the Indiian – held Jammu and Kashmir.

Every realistic nation endorses the Kashmiris struggle through pragmatic words and deeds. To quote an example, the widely-circulated London newspaper, “The Guardian” in its recent critique, under the heading ‘Repressive measures’ writes that “to define the unrest in Kashmir as terrorism sponsored by Pakistan is a monstrous distortion.” Inked by reputed author, Isabel Hilton, the lengthy comment adds, “Despite two United Nations resolutions urging a referendum, India has refused to hold one.” The article said, “The Kashmir dispute has been ignored by the international community for nearly four decades and it has rarely been more dangerous. Kashmir, too, is a dispute that has festered because of decades of neglect.”

Touching the incident at the Indian parliament, the author of the article says, “India might use attack on its parliament as a pretext for further military action in Kashmir.” Hilton continues to say that “Kashmir is recognized by the UN as disputed territory. It is time that international attention was concentrated on the dispute before the war against terrorism provides the pretext for further tragedy.” Acknowledging the initiatives of the President, General Pervez Musharraf for a durable peace in the region, the ‘Guardian’ writes that President Musharraf has “repeatedly called for negotiations on Kashmir; there has never been a Pakistani head of state more willing to talk about an issue that arouses violent feelings on both sides.”

The views carried by the newspapers highlight the fact – crystal clear – that the President has expressed willingness to have talks with India, anywhere, anytime and at any level to solve the long-running Kashmir dispute which remains a major source of tension between the two nuclear neighbours in South Asia. On the subject of terrorism, the British daily says, ” A decade ago, the UN general Assembly adopted a resolution on measures to eliminate international terrorism é which said, among other things, that nothing in the resolution could be taken to prejudice the right of self-determination, freedom and independence laid out in the UN charter.” The paper says, “Kashmir is an even more alarming case, not only because the death toll is much higher (some 70,000 Kashmiris have died in the last 10 years), but also because it threatens a potential conflict between South Asia’s nuclear states, a catastrophe that would dwarf that of Sept 11”.

The need for a dialogue between India and Pakistan has been emphasized even by the top world leaders including the US President Bush, the apex Chinese leaders, the British premier, as well as the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan along with others who recognized the truthful efforts of the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf for talks with India for amicable settlement of all the disputes, of-course with Kashmir as a core issue – by welcoming his address to the nation through insistent contacts.

Hence the only feasible option left for India is that it should eschew traditional reluctance and instead respect the universal voice by accepting the unanimous call for talks to solve the long-standing problems without any delay. Else, India would continue to suffer heavily, more specifically on its socio-economic fronts in the wake of its fanatic arm build-up drive at the cost of a colossal digit of its ravenous populace. At the same time, it is the duty of the international community, especially the United States to avow its influence on India for ensuring a stable peace in South Asia, which can be made possible only through early talks on the Kashmir dispute. Otherwise, peace in the region will remain at stake as the armed forces of the two countries are in a stand-off position at the borders only due to Indian obduracy.

The entire onus for such a disquieting situation lay on the Indian rulers, who are not only resorting to set their economy ablaze but are also creating horrendous problems for their people, who need succour to survive and shelter to live instead of wastage of their exchequer on the blind-fold anthology of arsenals. Realistic observers, everywhere in the world yearn for an instant break-through for the commencement of an instantaneous process of negotiations to avert the dormant aftermath of the on-going conflict, which is possible only through the elimination of the Indian intransigence. It is, therefore perfect time for Mr. Vajpayee and his colleagues to confess the ground reality that the affluent future of South Asia rests solely in amity, as has been reminded to them é time and again – by the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf through his well-acknowledged gestures of goodwill and sincere desire for talks in the best interest of peace and tranquillity in this part of the world.

One can simply hope that sanity may encircle the Indian leaders to bow before the frank and cordial propositions of the President of Pakistan. This can, perhaps make New Delhi realize the efficacy of mutual talks in place of its antagonistic postures. Such a wish can be made achievable only through the process of de-escalation with quick withdrawal of the Indian troops from the borders to their peace-time locations. This can be followed by the course of dialogue for the settlement of bilateral disputes, with core issue of Kashmir atop as it plausibly deserves resolute attention. Such a scenario, if takes place can usher in an era of everlasting prosperity in South Asia, which has remained deprived so far only because of egotism and flimsy attitude of India towards the solid facts.

Things have not yet gone out of control. It is, therefore time to act for peace and not far undue troubles for the poor Indian masses that need a loaf of bread and not bullets. Obviously such an idyllic situation persists in the times of peace, the worth of which is ought to be admitted by India. Pakistan, on its part has advocated its love for peace enthusiastically in the best interest of the nations, around the globe. It does not want war é which otherwise means ruiné yet, let no one dare infer this outlook as a sign of weakness. If war is imposed, each and every Pakistani é irrespective of age, cast or credo é will step in jointly to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the heroic, valiant, courageous, gallant, chivalrous, daring and undaunted armed forces of Pakistan to frustrate the evil designs of the enemy by defending each and every inch of the soil of Pakistan.

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

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