Narendra Modi was sworn-in as the 15th Prime Minister of India May 26 , 2014. SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation) leaders attended this ceremony.
This is for the first time that SAARC leaders were invited and attended a ceremony of this nature. There is no doubt that it has created a lot of goodwill in the region. It is indeed a master-stroke by Modi.
Among all leaders who attended the ceremony, attendance of Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, had a special significance.
India and Pakistan have been arch enemies ever since 1947, and have had 4 wars between them, the last being the Kargill war. In the process, they have been spending quite a significant amount of money on defence. This very money could have been used for tackling poverty, improving health facilities and providing better education facilities, if there were better relations between these two nations.
There is a desire, at least among people, for normalisation of relations, but it has not happened. Vested interests have created every possible obstruction in the process.
Terrorism and “Non-state actors”, often with support from Pakistan Army/ISI have been very effective in derailing the peace process. India has had many terrorism related attacks by people linked with terror groups based in Pakistan. Attack on Indian Parliament and Terrorist attack on Mumbai are two most important ones among them.
Army rule in Pakistan for most of the years after 1947 has not helped.
I am sure that Pakistan will also have its list of grievances against India, but we need to move on, instead of repeating the blame game against one another. It is not going to be productive.
We have to take note that things have changed as Pakistan had a civilian Government for a full 5years period recently and then had a peaceful change of the Govt via a democratic election, leading to PML-N coming to the power. Nawaz Sharif of PML-N is the Prime Minister of Pakistan now. He has a popular mandate with him. He is experienced and pragmatic. During election campaign, Sharif spoke repeatedly about the need to have better relations with India.
It was very heartening to see that not only Nawaz Sharif attended the swearing-in of Modi, but in a gesture of good will, his wife, Kulsoom Sharif and son, Hussain Nawaz Sharif, accompanied him to New Delhi too.
Before leaving for New Delhi, Sharif said that he is travelling to India with a “Message of Peace”. Pakistan also released 150 fishermen on that that as a gesture of good will.
India and Pakistan must bury the past and start a new beginning. Normalisation of their relations is in the interest for people of both countries. It is a no-brainer.
Pragmatism is required from the leaders of both countries.
Leaders of both countries need to show leadership.
Peace between two countries is possible if they,
- Get after the terrorist groups who do not want peace in the region and eliminate them,
- Do not allow terror groups to operate from their soil,
- Change the mind-set of agencies which are against peace between two countries
- Have supremacy of civilian Govt in regards to Foreign Affairs and trade,
- Put “K” on the back-burner for at least 25 years and going for an “Out of Box”, pragmatic and practical understanding on Kashmir, instead of repeating the stated position ad nauseum, recognising that no third party including UNO can/will resolve this issue,
- Provide MFN (Most Favoured Nation) status to each other without any further delay,
- Encourage tourism between two countries
I am quoting Nawaz Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s Tweets, which I found very enlightening and encouraging.
“Why can’t India and Pakistan team up to win the wars against diseases, illiteracy and poverty? We can …”
“Why India and Pakistan have to be the prisoners of the past? Should bury the enmity & start afresh. #PakIndiarelations”
“I personally think cordial relations with new Indian govt should be cultivated. Will help remove psychological barriers, fear & misgivings.”
India and Pakistan do not need to be like Koreas. They can be like European countries, where borders do not mean much, but this will only happen if leaders act like statesmen, with honesty and determination, and if terrorists have no role in the polity at any cost.
Nothing is going to work if they do not address “trust deficit”, which is the mother of all problems between the two nations! Words and solemn promises/assurances must be worth believing, without which nothing will change in regards to India-Pakistan relations!