ALAM RIND A sizable population in Pakistan and hopefully people in the same proportion in India wish for peace in the region. Aman ki Asha is indeed a reflection of their true desires. The single most important factor that will help in building lasting relations would be to address mutual irritants, while shunning egoistic stances and approaching the same as per internationally accepted norms and aspirations of the people. To make peace a reality, a lot of efforts have also to be made at different levels of which the most important would be commercial links and people-to-people contact. These links will definitely exert pressure on the governments of the two countries to patch up their differences. However, the relations between India and Pakistan can only prosper if based on the principles of equity and mutual respect. To tackle the issues in earnest, the two major countries of the subcontinent will have to build their relations based on mutual trust. However, in an environment of uncertainty this trust is hard to come by. The reasons can be many, but the most damaging is the desire to dominate. Historically, Muslims and Hindus have lived together for centuries and therefore theoretically they should be able to coexist peacefully even now. But the fact of the matter is that the two communities maintained their individual identity throughout. It seems that the centuries of living together instead of bridging the gaps rather reinforced the competitive spirit between the two communities. That is again quite natural because they lived as masters and subjects. Hence, to bring about a meaningful change the present mindset, based on the desire to dominate and mistrust, will have to change. In the same vein, tackling the problem of mental predisposition is one of the major challenge social scientists have to face in order to win peace and harmony for the subcontinent. We ought to do it without really suffering too much. While comparing the European Union with the subcontinent it is said that if the Polish people after having suffered six million casualties at the hands of the Germans can patch up, why cant India and Pakistan? However, that will be 'too simplistic an approach. Undeniably, a single solution cannot be applied to the two fundamentally different situations. In Indo-Pak scenario, the relations are infested by deep-rooted differences which are a continuous source of dissent between the two countries. India, driven by her hegemonic ambition and at the same time being fearful of its fallout, is highly reluctant to grant freedom to the people of Kashmir. In fact, she has backtracked from her commitment at the UN General Assembly to hold a free and fair plebiscite to accord the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir. In this context, India is working since long to divert the water flow of the rivers originating from Kashmir in violation to the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960 by the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan. Moreover, New Delhis involvement in funding and arming dissident elements in Balochistan, as a counterweight to have Kashmir issue resolved on her terms, is an open secret. The concerns were voiced even by General Stanley McChrystal, the top US and NATO commander, regarding Indian activities in Afghanistan and its negative fallout on Pakistan. Recent rhetoric about the 'Cold Start Strategy by the incumbent Indian Army Chief, Deepak Kapoor, can be construed as a direct threat to the sovereignty of Pakistan and his assertions regarding the ability of the Indian army to combat and defeat China and Pakistan simultaneously reflects on their hegemonic mindset. Lately, Indias reluctance to restart the comprehensive dialogue in letter and in spirit speaks of her intent. Nevertheless, history plays a major role in shaping perceptions and what we have is the most excruciating past. The fall of Dhaka and assertion by Indian leaders that we have taken revenge of a thousand years, destruction of Babri Masjid, massacre of Muslims every now and then, and their unabated atrocities in Kashmir are what our history is construed of. In this backdrop, to truly bridge the trust deficit the two nations will have to embark upon tangible trust building measures. But the fact is that we are far away even from the starting point of such activities. Indeed, we should shun the idea that the other party can be subjugated through coercion rather it will be a dreadfully dangerous course of action. It seems that the impact of nuclearisation of the subcontinent has not been fully comprehended. With such developments probably it is not possible to bridge the trust deficit easily. I believe that the time is not ripe to really launch an initiative on the lines of the European Union. First we need to work on creating the right kind of environment which would facilitate such mega changes. It will only be possible if we are somehow able to change the present mental predisposition of the Indian ruling elite. The notion of dominating the Indian Ocean and playing the role of a regional power needs to be changed with that of a senior partner facilitating mutual development. Being the biggest state of the region, India needs to radiate confidence among smaller partners by generously resolving regional issues. All this seems to be a distant and a remote possibility, but certainly is achievable. What the people and the governments of the two countries need to understand is that they can win prosperity and peace for their people 'only if they abide by the internationally accepted norms. And respect the aspirations of the people. Such a transition can usher into an era of peace and development for the region. The writer is a freelance columnist.