Last month when the domestic tensions were simmering because of Qadri’s long march, an untoward incident took place on the Pak-India boarder. In a series of clashes, two Pakistani and two Indian soldiers were killed, including beheading of an Indian jawan. This led to heightening tensions and chauvinistic media mongering on both sides. The rage on Indian side was apparently greater as the Indian PM was forced to say that ‘after this barbaric act, there cannot be business as usual with Pakistan’. The new visa regime between both the countries signed in December last year was also suspended, Pakistan’s hockey team was sent back, and similar was being expected of Women’s national cricket team. For some time, hostility and unpredictability prevailed over the hopes of normalization and peace.
The attempts on derailing the peace process between these unfortunate neighbors are not new. We have been witnessing it now and then in the forms ranging from Kargil war, attack on Indian Parliament to Mumbai attacks. This is not just coincidence that on each occasion, the timings of these interventions were chosen to be most fatal. This time it appears in response to new trade and visa regime and a great many other confidence building measures. Moreover another contextual factor could be the first time ever announcement by the Pakistan Army Chief saying that the greater threat Pakistan faces is internal, not external. These developments must have irked those India-centric elements in the powerful circles who measure patriotism only by the level of animosity with India.
Fortunately both the nations seem to have learned from the past experiences. Despite the entire hullabaloo, sanity has prevailed. Officials on both sides have expressed their commitment to continue the peace process. But as long as there are sections of establishment and society on both sides who breed on hatred and wars, the threat of another misadventure, or worse, will loom. Such a threat cannot be easily ignored and it has to be checked by containing, if not purging, the hawks on both sides.
The fact remains that the spoiler brigades rest on the general discourse of hatred. Only a consistent commitment to the peace process, against all odds, is the antidote to such a discourse. But a purgative of honest introspection must precede for the antidote to work. That would mean admitting our past mistakes and learning from them, both at state and societal level.
—Written by Rab Nawaz
(Published in The Laaltain – Issue 7)