If one has to look for the third force trying to put a spanner in the already stalled peace process between India and Pakistan, they should just drive around Karachi to view the wall chalking calling for jihad as the only way to punish out India. These wall chalkings are not from some shady groups but from well known religious and sectarian parties and outfits (banned or not banned, that makes no difference in Pakistan). Unfortunately these hate mongers are not just limited to defacing the city' walls; their comrades are active near and across the border, ready to act when given the green signal to start derailment of peace process between these two neighbors.

After May 2013 elections, a Punjab dominated political force took over Islamabad; one would have expected that the presumed thaw with India will win the nod from overwhelmingly Punjab based army and religious parties. Both countries started to work-out meeting schedules to resume negotiations on different pending issues. The Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers are scheduled to meet in September. Obviously all these developments are not acceptable to ‘hawks’ on either side of the border.

Last weekend an attack on Indian Consulate in Jalalabad-Afghanistan was blamed on terrorists holed up in the lawless tribal areas. If that was not enough, then comes the flash on the Line-of-Control (LOC) wherein it's being blamed by India that twenty heavily armed terrorists accompanied by persons in Pakistan army uniform attacked an Indian army patrol in Poonch sector in Indian-held Kashmir. Five Indian soldiers were killed in the ambush; this daring act of violence was good enough to trigger skirmishes on LOC killing and wounding many more soldiers.

Regardless of the fact who shot the first bullet, one may safely presume that it's not from the political leadership. But if the political leadership is swayed, as was evident in Delhi the other day, when Congress' youth wing tried to storm the Pakistan High Commission building, then the outcome is obvious. It will be a victory for those whose sole aim is spelled out on Karachi' walls, “no to peace, no to normalization of relations, but yes to proxy wars, yes to terrorist activities, yes to ammunition dumps” all in the name of religion. Now it's a test case for the Indian and Pakistani leadership, media and political vanguards for better sense to prevail. Let's see if Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan Singh are able to put the hostile elements in their place, or will they be swayed by hate-politics, a time-tested tactic to win elections in North India and Pakistani Punjab.


Saudi Arabia, August 8.