By Talal Raza
The relations between India and Pakistan have touched the lowest ebb. Thanks to the vitriolic anti-Pakistan rhetoric of Modi-led government coupled with protracted border clashes between India and Pakistan, the two countries are finding it hard to revive the political dialogue process.
To understand Indo-Pak relations from Peace Paradigm, this scribe interviewed Assistant Professor Ma’m Maria Effendi. Miss Maria has been part of Track II Dialogue between India and Pakistan Militaries, known as “Ottawa Military to Military Dialogue” during the year 2014. Representing as an academician in Pakistan’s delegation, Miss. Maria not only interacted with Indian delegation comprising of career diplomats, academics and former military personnel but also presented a paper on “Confidence building measures: past, present and future”
What confidence building measures should Pakistan and India take?
Continuous dialogue…a political will that dialogue will never be disrupted at any point of time… Whether there is some triggering incident….international trend or something like that. Willingness from both parties to stick together towards better and more fruitful dialogue is the key diplomatically, politically and militarily. Whenever there is some border clash, the two countries are far away from each other. They do not even intend to talk to each other. That is the wrong approach. At the same time I also do not encourage this idea that the two countries keep on promising that we would resolve or manage Kashmir conflict or Indo-Pak differences through dialogue and at the same time borders are tensed. Diplomatic statements for peace process are undone with every mortar bombing killing innocent civilians near border areas. That trend should be discouraged immediately. That means both countries’leadership should go back to constituencies that is their people. They should develop consensus on how India and Pakistan should move towards peace process in a sustainable way. You cant resolve Kashmir conflict unless and until all factions of the society are involved. Here, on our side, political and military factions are on board. But somehow civil society is lagging behind, economists, artists or other factions or even religious leaders are not on board. Unfortunately, fanatics try to overshadow and derail peace process on both sides…A few days ago there was a book launching ceremony of Former Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri during which blank ink was thrown on the organizer. That incident is a harsh statement that we are not ready to talk. We are not going to cater you as our neighbor. When you have such incidents then it’s a long way to achieve.
Some people in Pakistan argue that Kashmir issue should be put at the back burner for some time and instead, Pakistan and India should look for economic integration in the first place. Do you agree with this argument?
I do not buy this argument. We have fought three major wars and endless skirmishes on the border due to the single cause of Kashmir. Pakistan calls it a human rights issue. India doesn’t see it in that way rather defines it as cross border terrorism. Both countries are interpreting conflict in their own way. What we need is not to freeze Kashmir or put it on back burner. Even if one wants to achieve economic collaboration, how will they go ahead when they already know they have a long history of acrimony on the single cause of Kashmir where thousands of the people have been killed brutally, women were raped etc etc. We can surely talk about other things but Kashmir is on the top. Kashmir is the foremost issue to be resolved, you cant put it on back burner anyways.