PM Khan’s categorical statement

Prime Minister Imran Khan has broken the silence on the Pulwama attack with a clearly laid out a reasonable statement. He’s made it clear that Pakistan has no soft corner for terrorist outfits, and we will not tolerate the use of our territory against any neighbour. The PM has also asked New Delhi to share evidence, if there is any, and Pakistan will take action on it.

This should have settled the issue but it seems that the Modi administration wouldn’t let the matter rest without extracting full benefit out of it, for the upcoming general elections. The ruling party in New Delhi is treading a very dangerous path, all for its vested interest of putting up a decent show in elections.

While the Modi administration loses sight of the larger picture, we hope that permanent state institutions and the civil society across the border will adopt a levelheaded approach. Like PM Khan suggested, Pakistan has paid the cost of its ill-designed policies of the past by fighting a prolonged war against terrorism. Its citizens have paid dearly for those misadventures, and as a result lessons have been learnt to not tolerate terrorist outfits anymore. It’s in the interest of the region that India should recognise this, and get over with its war hysteria.

Continuing the policy of the outgoing government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, PM Khan has extended several invitations to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resume dialogue. If it’s too politically difficult for the Modi administration to make any public gestures, it can at least open backdoor diplomatic channels for the purpose.

What New Delhi needs to acknowledge is that from regional and global players like China and Saudi Arabia to the United States and United Nations, everyone with a stake in the region and world affairs is speaking with one voice: the two nuclear-armed neighbours need to defuse their tensions. And after the statement made by PM Khan, there really is no need for New Delhi to keep indulging in jingoism.

The loss of lives in Pulwama was tragic, but it was completely avoidable, and if we’re meant to call a spade a spade, New Delhi’s shameless persecution of the Kashmiri people over the last seven decades has led to this state of affairs. The sooner it’s realised that Kashmir belongs to the Kashmiris, and its fate ought to be decided by them, the better it will be for people of the region. *

Published in Daily Times, February 21st 2019.