The recently held DGsMO meeting between Bharat and Pakistan in the last week of February 2021 agreed to a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LOC) starting from February 25, 2021. The joint statement said that the meeting was held between the Director Generals of Military Operations of Bharat and Pakistan and it also reviewed the current situation across the Line of Control (LOC) and other sectors ‘in a free, frank and cordial atmosphere’.
During the meeting, the DGsMO also agreed to discuss core issues and concerns which have the potential to disturb peace along the regions of the LOC.
“In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGsMO agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have the propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence. Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight 24-25 February 2021,” the statement further explained.
Consequent upon the statement and implementation of the agreement, a series of discussions and debate on the issue was initiated at various governmental and non-governmental levels which welcomed the statement. In such a series of debates, the Centre for Peace & Progress, New Delhi convened a global webinar on 11th March 2021 on the topic: “Improving Indo-Pak Relations”. T
he event was presided over and conducted by O. P. Shah, Chairman of the Centre, who is doing a good job of engaging people of prominence in discussions on the hot and current topics. The webinar unanimously welcomed the development of ceasefire agreement between Bharat and Pakistan and wished it to be followed by more concrete steps to build an everlasting peace.
The participants in the webinar among others included Khurshid Mehmud Kasoori, former foreign minister of Pakistan, M.Y.Tarigami, Amarjit Dulat, Radha Kumar, Kapil Kak, Muzaffar Shah, Kuldeep Khuda, Sudheendra Kulkarni, Nyla Ali Khan, Ishwar Khajuria, Shuja Zafar, Adv. Manjit Singh Kehaira, A.M.Watali, Dr. Qazi Ashraf, N.D.Pancholi, Suman Bhattacharya, Prof. Sushil, Dr. Gita Chatterjee, Rasul Baksh Rais and Prof. G.M.Wani. The inaugural presentation was made by Kasoori.
Kasoori in his speech referred to his experiences during the Vajpayee’s and Manmohan Singh’s regimes while he was in office in Pakistan and said that “some more baby steps” are expected to be taken by the current leaderships in both the countries. He added that the relations between the two nations are ‘acadamically’ guided by the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is a bilateral issue between Bharat and Pakistan.
This author was also an invitee in the said webinar and in my presentation, I said that while the ceasefire agreement at the level of DGsMO between Bharat and Pakistan is a welcome development, yet it needs to be reiterated that Bharat’s current policy regarding Pakistan is guided by the doctrine that “terror and talks won’t go together”.
It was emphasized that in case the peace has to be an everlasting development, Pakistan has a bigger responsibility to stop cross-border terrorism, insurgency and support to misadventures across the line of control and the international border.
The doctrine of “terror and talks won’t go together” was initiated by Bharat during the UPA regime and was followed meticulously by the current government headed by Narendra Modi for the last seven years. There is no likelihood to expect any change in the policy that has so vigorously been followed by Bharat under Modi.
While following the Pakistan media, it has been observed that the people in Pakistan preferred to have the Bharat-made Covid-19 vaccine than the one made by China. It is hoped that the policy of Pakistan regarding the ceasefire with Bharat is not guided by the Bharat-made Covid-19 vaccine demand in Pakistan and is pursued even after such a need of Pakistan is fulfilled by Bharat. Pakistan is among the 70 nations of the world who have been supplied the Covid19 vaccine by Bharat through both the channels, UN and Direct.
The people and the governments in the region shouldn’t be guided, in any way, by the western countries’ media and debate on Indo-Pak relations. The relations should be independent of the western media narrative on the relations between Bharat and Pakistan since many elements in those countries have a history of exploitation and hypocrisy in their public life. They have all along misused their position and status to the detriment of the South Asian key players.
It has been often seen that there are elements who on the one hand would speak in terms of peace and improvement of relations between the two countries and on the other hand would also like to be hawkish against the Modi government, NDA policy, BJP leadership and Narendra Modi. Such an approach has to change necessarily in order to understand and influence the policies of the governments concerned.
In order to expect better results, interactions with those who are important in the government and the party in the government to make and influence policies and strategies is very important. It would be worthwhile to make the discussions and debates complete by involving people belonging to all important sides, and in particular the government side necessarily.
I express my gratitude to the speakers in the webinar who were in solidarity with me on this issue. I specially thank Muzzaffar Shah for endorsing my point of view to include all shades of opinion in the discussions so that the discussions and debates are not only comprehensive and complete but also fruitful and result oriented.
However, this needs to be clarified that the people of Jammu and Kashmir, as the part of the Bharat, are well represented by the government of Bharat in all cases. The Instrument of Accession and the Shimla Agreement between Bharat and Pakistan don’t give any right to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to claim any status or position as the stakeholder of any discussion between Bharat and Pakistan. Both the countries explicitly said that Jammu and Kashmir is a bilateral issue between Bharat and Pakistan.
The agreement between Bharat and Pakistan during the Manmohan-Musharaff era asks Pakistan to ensure that the land under its control is not used for terrorism and building terror infrastructure on it. Pakistan is yet to implement its commitment in this regard. There were voices in the webinar asking Kassori to impress upon the government in Pakistan to stay away from Kashmir in the larger interests of both the countries.
Bharat recently observed the anniversary of 1994 unanimous Parliamentary Resolution on Jammu and Kashmir which explicitly says about the liberation of Pak-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The abolition of Article 370 and 35A, dissolution of the Jammu and Kashmir separate constitution and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two union territories have brought a sea change in the socio-political and international scenario in respect of Jammu and Kashmir. There is no likelihood at present that anything that happened in August 2019 can be reversed.
The only thing that the government of Bharat has committed to do is regarding the conversion of UT of J&K back to the state at an ‘appropriate time’. But the “appropriate time” is subject to interpretations and speculations by one and all. In a recent interview, the erstwhile Yuvraj, ‘Sadre-riyasat’ and the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr. Karan Singh said candidly that “there was no option but to fall in line” with what the Parliament of Bharat did on 5-6 August 2019. It is important for Pakistan to come to terms with the significant change of scenario over the last two years, in particular.
Peace in Jammu and Kashmir is subject to the understanding and reconciliation by the State of Pakistan regarding the changed scenario. However, it is for the people of Jammu and Kashmir to make Pakistan understand that it needs to mind its own business and ‘we the people in J&K’ are more interested in peace and progress than an unabated conflict which has already taken one hundred thousand souls away from us over the past four decades. This is the time of reconciliation, peace, prosperity and goodwill.
Hope Pakistan understands this all in context of the well being of the people of Jammu and Kashmir after receipt of millions of dozes of Covid vaccination free of cost from Bharat as a gesture of humanitarian assistance, benevolence and compassion.
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