N.S. Venkataraman for BeyondHeadlines
Many eyebrows were raised in India and Pakistan, when Prime Minister of India Mr.Narendra Modi shook hands with Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr.Nawaz Shariff and discussed Indo Pakistan relationship in Russia recently. While sceptics think that the present peace initiative will end up in an anti climax like several other peace initiatives made in the past, atleast some people in India and Pakistan think that there is reasonable chance of the present peace initiative being sustained.
The ground reality is that millions of Indian and Pakistanis do not dislike each other and have responded to each other with understanding and goodwill when opportunities are there.
There are still millions of admirers in India of some Pakistani cricketers and they like to see them and hear them. Imran Khan, a former cricketer and now a political leader in Pakistan, is often interviewed in Indian TV media and he has also provided expert commentary on cricket matches taking place in India. Many Hindi films produced in India are watched in Pakistan with sustained interest. Occasionally, musicians from India and Pakistan render performance during exchange programmes. Several Indian hospitals receive patients from Pakistan and treat them well which are appreciated in Pakistan. There is also regular trade between Indian and Pakistan and traders in both the countries face no particular problem in dealing with each other. Such conditions only highlight the fact that there are no fundamental and unsurmountable issues in India Pakistan relationships.
It is said that the vexed Kashmir issue is the stumbling block in India Pakistan relationship and there is no immediate solution for this dispute. It is also said that unless the Kashmir issue would be resolved, peace move between India and Pakistan will not be successful. There may be some justification for such perspective, particularly due to the conflicts and border skirmishes that have been taking place for the last several decades. However, history has repeatedly shown that in many regions, apparently irreconcilable issues have been solved and overcome by change in mindset of the people on both sides.
What is required to achieve this positive change in the mind set is the quality of statesmanship and far sighted outlook on the part of the leadership in both the countries. Let us now believe and hope that Mr.Narendra Modi and Mr.Nawaz Sharif are capable of exhibiting lofty qualities of statesmanship.
The present time is very appropriate for the peace initiative, as both India and Pakistan are victims of frequent terrorist activities and many innocent lives have been lost in both the countries. Both India and Pakistan have common interest in combating terrorism and this cannot happen without mutual cooperation between both the countries.
In recent times, the economy of Pakistan have suffered due to lack of overseas investment inflow, as there appear to be world view that terrorism in Pakistan have increased and terrorists and extremists are now well entrenched in Pakistan. This situation may not be due to government of Pakistan but inspite of its efforts to put down terrorism. Certainly, Pakistan can gain better international image by effective anti terrorist activities and India’s support can be helpful to achieve this end.
Mr. C.Rajagopalachari (popularly known as Rajaji) who was the first Governor General of independent India and acclaimed as a statesman of high order who could think far ahead of his time, said several decades back that the best and sure way of solving India Pakistan issues would be to focus on positives and ignore the negatives to the extent possible. He said that by focussing on the positives, emotional integration and inter dependence between the people of both the countries would happen. With the mind set of considerable section of people in India and Pakistan becoming peace and harmony oriented towards each other, there would be pressure on politicians and extremists to behave in both the countries.
Possibly, such view point and approach is weighing in the mind of Mr. Narendra Modi and Mr.Nawaz Shariff, as they shook hands, smiled and posed for photograph in Russia. Mr.Modi’s acceptance of the invitation to visit Pakistan in 2016 obviously indicate the fact that Mr.Modi thinks that peace between India and Pakistan is necessary and inevitable.
While extremists and politicians in both the countries with narrow interest will continue to make hawkish statements and shout provocative slogans, millions of peace loving citizens in India and Pakistan who realise the futility of conflict should assert themselves and wage a silent and sustained battle for peace. Supported by peace loving Indians and Pakistanis and with Mr.Narendra Modi and Mr.Nawaz Shariff exhibiting matured outlook, peace would happen between India and Pakistan sooner or later and perhaps sooner than later.
(N.S.Venkataraman is a Chemical Engineer from Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu and Director of Nandini Consultancy Centre. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)