N. S. Venkataraman        9/5/2018

It is reported that Pakistan’s army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has recognized that way to peace and prosperity in Pakistan is through cooperation with India. U K based think tank Royal Unites Services Institute (RUSI) has said in its analytical report that the Pakistan army chief made these remarks, which are pragmatic, refreshing and need to be applauded.

Ever since the partition of India took place in 1947 with Pakistan becoming a separate country, India and Pakistan have been at logger’s heads adopting an attitude of confrontation, which has proved to be counterproductive for both the countries.

Pakistan and India have some internal issues, India has had a democratically elected government in contrast to that of Pakistan, where there have been some coups when army has overthrown the civilian government with the army chief crowning himself as the President of Pakistan, even without any popular mandate. In any case, whoever has been in power in Pakistan whether a civilian rule or military rule, the attitude of confrontation and hate politics against India have continued unabated. Several wars have taken place between both the countries leading to the younger generation, both in India and Pakistan, now viewing as if India and Pakistan are permanent enemies.

With Pakistan undergoing stressful conditions due to domination of politics by extremist religious groups and with army ,which is not really accountable to the people ,having a decisive say in all matters of governance even under civilian rule, Pakistan has certainly suffered in terms of economic and social growth, in spite of the fact that it has strong mineral resources and sound agricultural base.

The fact is that the Kashmir issue has continued to remain a focus of confrontation between India and Pakistan, with politicians whipping up passion on both the sides. In the process, both India and Pakistan have been spending an enormous amount of money and resources in building and maintaining the army, which has inevitably prevented both the countries from spending adequately in the much needed industrial, economic and social development programmes.

While an air of confrontation has been there between India and Pakistan for the last several decades, there are also silver linings, with many concerned citizens in both the countries thinking and feeling that there should be strong cooperation with respect and understanding between both the countries for mutual benefits. There have been some attempts to promote people to people cooperation and goodwill as well as cultural exchange programmes to cement relationships between both the countries. However, such meaningful efforts have been proved to be too feeble to make any positive impact.

In such circumstances, it certainly calls for the considerable courage of conviction for the Pakistan army chief to stress on the need for peace with India. There is no reason to believe that such remarks of Pakistan army chief are cosmetic and certainly it should be respected at face value.

With Pakistan army chief making such healthy observations and with army in Pakistan all the time having decisive say in Pakistan’s governance and with the presence of strong Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has the will and strength to take decisive decisions of far-reaching significance, the time is now ripe for India and Pakistan to move on to build an era of cooperation and friendship. Successful efforts in this regard will be a win-win situation for both the countries.

While the building of peace and amity will do enormous good both to India and Pakistan, the ground reality is that Pakistan needs such cordial relationship even much more than India.

Pakistan has got itself hugely entangled by allowing excessive industrial and infrastructure cooperation with China and driving itself into a situation, where it’s dependence on China has nearly reached an alarming level ,due to the enormous debt burden with China and several strategic facilities like port and mineral resources in Pakistan coming under China’s investment and control.

There is certainly realization amongst many quarters in Pakistan itself that the economic corridor projects constructed by China in Pakistan may not be in the interest of Pakistan in the long run from economic and political sovereignty.

In all probability, such factors may be weighing in the mind of Pakistan army chief, who must be thinking that relations with China should be counterbalanced by developing cooperation with India.

Of course, the precondition for building an era of cooperation is that the confrontation in Kashmir should stop and Pakistan must cease to provide moral and material support to the terrorists and extremists in Kashmir, who are creating great hardships for people in Kashmir.

An amicable solution to Kashmir issue is possible if there would be well-meaning leadership is having the courage of conviction in both the countries.

Pakistan army chief has facilitated a path of peace by his positive observations, and one can hope that Mr. Modi would respond in the same spirit. In such relationships, the building of trust between both the countries and silencing the vested interests are the prime requisites.

Time alone will tell whether the positive development would happen in India Pakistan relationship.

Life of nations just like that of individuals is always guided by hope and faith.

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