War hysteria and Kashmir

By Talal Raza

As the world celebrated the World Peace day on September 21 this year,  the states of Pakistan and India seem to have taken a huge leap backwards on the bilateral engagement. It reminds me of the year 2000-2001 when the two countries were at loggerheads in the aftermath of Indian Parliament attack. Leaders of both countries were pretending to be tough. Even forces were deployed along the line of control and the rhetoric of “war preparedness” was in the air. It seemed as if war was inevitable and one bullet from either side would trigger a large scale armed conflict. Thankfully, nothing of this sort happened and both countries were back on utilizing diplomatic channels.

Fast forward to 2016, in the after math of Uri attack in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir that killed 18 Indian soldiers, we are back to those days of blame game, claims of giving the enemy a “befitting reply” and nation’s “war preparedness”.  Just like in the past, the vitriolic speeches from both sides coupled with pumped up nationalism is at worst, blinding the people on both sides about the possible consequences that they may have to bear as a result of an armed clash between the two nuclear states of South Asia.

The fact is, Pakistan and India have fought three wars over Kashmir and neither of them had been able to strengthen either party’s clutches on Kashmir. In fact, these violent encounters have only contributed towards making the Kashmir issue more complicated. Going towards another armed escalation is least likely to help resolve Kashmir dispute and cross border terrorism.

Today, we have reached a choking point where India conveniently brings up the issue of cross border terrorism in response to Pakistan’s mundane “fillers” of reminding India about respecting UN resolutions on Kashmir. Deep down, these rigid positions are not going to help Kashmiris.

Although, it would be beyond the scope of this article to propose any tangible strategies to resolve Kashmir issue, the solution can be found in the Modi’s August speech that talked about following Vajpayee’s path on Kashmir.  However, Mr.Modi apparently seems to forget that Vajpayee’s path to Kashmir was of engagement with Pakistan and Kashmiris through dialogue rather than war. In fact, the high handed use of force against Kashmiris coupled with fiery rhetoric against Pakistan has only helped in “internationalizing” the Kashmir, typically a diplomatic goal that Pakistan has been trying to achieve. While India continues to make tall claims of isolating Pakistan in the comity of nations, the fact is that it stands completely isolated over the Kashmir issue in international community. The sanity warrants that Prime Minister Modi shift his focus from war-mongering and act upon the path of Vajpayee by taking Kashmir as a political issue.

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