The situation that had developed as a result of the naked Indian aggression against Pakistan could have easily escalated into a full-fledged war between the two nuclear neighbours with all the accompanying disastrous consequences for the region and beyond, besides incalculable harm to both countries. However, the restraint shown by Pakistan, despite her capability and readiness to thwart nefarious designs of the enemy, and her diplomatic offensive to sensitise the world community about the lurking dangers urging them to dissuade India from aggression against Pakistan helped to lower the temperature to some extent.

The US, UN, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and UAE played a significant role in de-escalating the situation. The foregoing developments corroborated success of the efforts made by Pakistan on the diplomatic front to give peace another chance. The fact that it was done from a position of strength after downing the Indian warplanes and hitting six military targets have endeared Pakistan well to the global community proving her sincerity in maintaining regional peace and resolving disputes with India through dialogue; an offer which has been repeatedly made to India by Prime Minister Imran Khan who even tried to call the Indian Prime Minister as revealed by him in the joint session of the parliament.

Pakistan not only condemned the Pulwama incident but also offered cooperation in the investigations, assuring India that if it could provide any credible evidence to support her allegations against her, it would take severe action against the perpetrators of the terrorist act. But unfortunately, the Indian government instead tried to use the tragedy for reaping political advantage by fomenting anti-Pakistan feelings among the Indian masses, supported by the Indian media, and building hysteria which ultimately brought the two countries to the brink of war and ultimately left India with a bloody nose. Indian opposition parties including Congress accused Modi of using the Pulwama episode for political gains. Chief of Indian extremist political party Maharashra Navnirman Sena Raj Thackery called the Indian soldiers killed in the Pulwama attack political victims claiming that truth would be revealed if the country’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval was probed. Pakistan in response to a dossier provided by India of late gave a word to take action if the evidence was credible.

Nevertheless, the danger of yet another indiscreet action by the Modi government before the elections remains a possibility. Certain circles in the Indian opposition have expressed fears about a Pulwama like incident happening before the elections. Prime Minister Imran Khan while addressing a public gathering at Khar recently also talked about the possibility of another Indian attack within the next 30 days.

Whether Modi government would be able to reap political advantage in the ensuing elections from the machinations it has adopted remains to be seen. But one thing is quite evident-Modi is treading a very dangerous course for his narrow political ends. If as feared, Modi repeats the madness shown earlier, I am afraid it could easily stoke into a nuclear war with horrible consequences. Modi is a man who has done incalculable damage to the secular disposition of India through his communal politics and deliberate policy initiatives to turn India into a war-like state. Under his stewardship, the Indian security forces have let loose an unprecedented reign of terror in IHK. His government is also trying to have articles 370 and 35 A of the Indian constitutions undone to withdraw special status of the state and to change its demographic features respectively; an irritant which might give further impetus to the freedom struggle in IHK.

The real cause of conflict and enmity between Pakistan and India is the Kashmir dispute which has remained unresolved during the last seventy years because of Indian refusal to fulfil her obligations towards the people of Kashmir as enshrined in the UN resolutions. India instead of trying to resolve the Kashmir issue has used the bilateral agreement to claim that it had precluded Pakistan’s right to invoke the UN resolutions on Kashmir, being unmindful of the fact that UN resolutions took precedence over any bilateral arrangement on the same subject. India has also been claiming Kashmir as her integral part, notwithstanding the fact that UN through its resolutions 91 and 122 repudiated the Indian claim unequivocally reiterating that the question of accession of the state could not be resolved through any arrangement except through a plebiscite held under the auspices of the UN. Peace in the region hinges on resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

Indian refusal to resolve the Kashmir issue forced the people of IHK to launch a freedom struggle in 1989. The Indian security forces have killed thousands of Kashmiris since then. The freedom struggle has gained further impetus since the killing of Burahan Wani in 2016. It is noteworthy that the Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat in an interview with Economic Times last June accepted the indigenous character of the freedom struggle in IHK and suggested giving dialogue a chance. Reportedly former chief of Indian intelligence agency RAW AS Dulat in an interview with an Indian TV has said” South Kashmir is not in Indian control and aggression will further alienate people of Kashmir. Coercion will not succeed as it is a historic truth. Pakistan is a reality and there is no way out but to talk to Pakistan.”

While the efforts of the world community are welcome, there is an imperative need for removing the root-cause of animosity between Pakistan and India on permanent basis through the resolution of Kashmir dispute. Until and unless the Kashmir question is resolved in conformity with the UN resolutions, peace and security in the region will remain an elusive dream. It is time for India also to recognise the ground realities in her own interest as well as for the UN and the world community to play their role in creating conditions for the people of Kashmir to exercise their right of self-determination so that no Indian adventurist like Modi could endanger the regional peace.

Until and unless the Kashmir question is resolved in conformity with the UN resolutions, peace and security in the region will remain an elusive dream.

The writer is a freelance columnist.ashpak10@gmail.com