By Pirbhat Shams Memon
Image source: www.muskurahat.pk
Peace is always in the mutual interest of parties tied up in conflict. One party does not do the other party any favors. If the Americans and the Russians can smoke the peace pipe, so can the Indians and the Pakistanis; however, it has to be done on the basis of dignity and mutual respect, not diktat or dictation. There is much in common between India and Pakistan, but there is much that separates the countries as well. Kashmir is the bone of contention between the two. Once India makes major territorial concessions in Kashmir and the border areas and border disputes have been resolved, the sky is the limit in terms of cooperation with Pakistan. Disputes over areas like Sir Creek and Siachen have to be resolved and resolved quickly. Once the issue of Kashmir is resolved in accordance with U.N. resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people, the Pakistan government will find no problem in helping India gain transnational travel through to Pakistan. However, this has to be on a mutual basis that India must live up to the letter and the spirit of the Indus Waters Treaty and begin treating Pakistanis as friends rather than enemies. If both want peace then they both have to support common causes. Jointly fighting for the Basmati rice patent and the International Rice Research Institute copyright would help the atmosphere of friendship. Past trade has been limited to tea, iron ore, textiles, engineering goods, and other industrial raw materials. But now more promising signs can be seen such as the opening of bank branches within each other’s territories, and the operation of commercial trucking and bus lines crossing the border and trade through Kashmir seems another way to peace in future and heal rift between India and Pakistan but their increased trade and joint economic efforts and cooperative accords will be for naught if past distrust resurfaces in the wake of the latest attacks on Mumbai. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani stated, “We don’t want to have aggression with our neighbors. We want to have friendly relations with our neighbors. I assure you once again that we will not act. We will only react.” He added, “We will not be the first to take any sort of misadventurism but at the same time, we are capable of defending our own dear country.” (AFP)
Both governments have displayed maturity in approaching the peace process. Both countries are nuclear powers and share a common border, a unique situation in the world today. The Composite Dialogue seeks to resolve numerous bilateral issues between the countries, including Kashmir. People to people ties have increased, which will undo years of hostility, although this will take time. Perhaps there is no other place in the world where people share common cultural bonds, than between Pakistan and India.
Pakistan’s former foreign ministers, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, may have best characterized the situation: “We want peace, but should not be complacent about India…We should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” (Associated Press)