“Aman Ki Asha” we can approach this with optimism, pessimism, cynicism, skepticism most certainly cannot ignore this attempt.
Nobody on this mother earth is more acutely aware and desirous of peace than the solider himself. We will not be able to turn a blind eye to the history of the last 62years. India and it complete neighborhood would have to be taken into account, and only then can we make a realistic assessment of the relationship with Pakistan in particular.
Our neighbors are Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan, China and Pakistan. Size wise India is second to China! rest of them all are smaller nations. Our relations with most barring Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Myanmar have had their swings from very positive to cold and negative, with the sole exception of Pakistan with whom we seem to have been in a perpetual state of war since 1947. None of our neighbors are as fixated about us as Pakistan has been, India has not displayed the same intensive negativity towards China, as Pakistan has maintained towards India.
India has often been accused of being coveting the territory of Pakistan. The charge of wanting and exercising hegemony over the entire region is heard exclusively from Pakistan and no other quarter. The issues between India and Pakistan are not going to be resolved by undertaking such exercises even though they do present an opportunity to the people of our two countries to express ourselves and also demonstrate to our Governments that we seek peace and friendship. The establishments are often stated to be the main hurdles on both sides of the border. Yet the different forms of government in these two countries are the first obstacle, we are a robust democracy, free society with its own faults and short comings, Pakistan on the other hand has had to live under the Jackboots for best part of its existence. Our civil society has a definite constituencies for peace with Pakistan and this is growing larger, do we have the same from the other side is the question? If there is a constituency for peace with India then how large and how vocal is it? The question of terrorism cannot be wished away nor can it be glossed over. A 1000 years war with India for Kashmir or bleeding India thru a 1000 cuts are stated positions of the political class and the defence establishment in Pakistan, can these be denied? juxtapose this between India and China, we have no such stated policy or continuous narrative towards China despite the 1962 armed conflict.
Pakistan has been singularly obsessed with possessing Kashmir and has sought parity with India on all counts for last 62 years, yet the disparity between the two neighbors is a stark contrast. India has progressed despite all wars with Pakistan, and the expenditure on the Armament that we have acquired and continue to acquire. Compare this with India and China, this trend is missing, we compete and cooperate as is suitable, yet there is no obsession on display.
It is often stated that the religion is another basis for the bad relations between our two countries, nothing could be further from truth than this, India has a very large section of the society which practices Islam and we are not in a constant state of internal war amongst the believers and the non- believers, on the contrary we do co-exist in complete harmony, yes there have been incidents in the past which should not have happened.
The wounds and scars of the partition have not yet complete healed, more so in North India.We would need a generational change in the political establishments on both sides of the border, before we can reach that state of PEACE which is very much desirable and need of the hour. The process would hasten if the civil society in Pakistan was to take the lead and become vocal in that country and impress upon its policy makers and other wings of the establishment that peace be given a fair chance.
The romanticists should have their space and they can pursue this dream of “Aman” let us all hope and pray that this Asha someday will translate into a reality.