One hears a hullabaloo all across India against Pakistan over the recent incidents of firing on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), with the Indian media and political lot asking New Delhi to teach Pakistan a lesson. As Premier Nawaz Sharif, during his 90-minute meeting with President Obama, told the world’s media that he was committed to going “the extra mile” towards making peace with India, the Indian prime minister said he was disappointed over the LoC clashes.
The Indian home minister, Sushil Kumar, visited Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) and threatened a befitting reply to Pakistan. Of all the leaders, Nawaz seems to be more committed than anyone else to a peaceful existence with India. It was he who held a reception for Vajpayee, where the latter indicated a likely Kashmir settlement. However, the Indian media is busy blocking his way towards forging peace. Pakistan-bashing is their popular election stunt. With Narendra Modi’s ‘hate-Muslim’ sloganeering, which poses a tremendous threat to the Congress Party’s hold on national politics, Rahul Gandhi has joined the chorus, saying that the ISI is recruiting disgruntled Muslims of Muzzafarnagar. That is why Manmohan was reluctant to meet Nawaz on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.
Given the unending state of instability on its western border, there was no reason for Islamabad to think of destabilising its border with India. However, India, in the words of a Kashmiri leader, “...is creating a war-like situation on the LoC and borders to woo voters”. It has now been over one month since the two prime ministers agreed in New York that the LoC issue would be settled but India has been delaying such an important meeting. Prime Minister Sharif’s appeal to the US for playing a mediator’s role is justified, which India has rejected by saying it is a bilateral issue. Columnist Zafar Hilaly rightly warned that, “Kashmir has the potential of igniting a world war”, so it is advisable for both the countries to let concerned countries play a due role in resolving the conflict. For the region’s sake, economic prosperity and the future of the coming generations, Nawaz Sharif’s appeal to the Indians is timely and, in Obama’s words, “a right step”. They must listen to his clarion call.
F Z KHAN,
Islamabad, November 8.