By Arif Qureshi
Pakistani and Indian diplomats trying to interact and convince the influential circles of Pakistan and India to resume halted relations through Iftar Diplomacy ( Holy Month of Ramadan in which Muslim Fast from dawn to sunset) in New Delhi and Islamabad. First Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit hosted an Iftar Dinner to honor Indian respective circles including Indian Controlled Kashmiri leaders All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) in New Delhi on 25th June. Followed by Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Mr Gautam Bambawale organized the same at Pakistan capital Islamabad to create a peaceful atmosphere to resume halted talks between two nuclear armed states.
Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit hosted the Iftar Party in New Delhi on same day when militants attacked Indian CRPF convoy in pampore in which eight soldiers were killed and 22 others wounded. On Wednesday Abdul Basit desired to resume talks during an Iftar Dinner hosted by JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav in Delhi. There is no hostile environment, for God’s sake. We are two neighbors. We have to talk and we will talk,” the Pakistan envoy said while responding to questions over CRPF attacks in Indian Kashmir which was owned by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) outfit.
Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Gautam Bambawale said India is ready to resume bilateral dialogue with Pakistan on all the issues if environment for talks is pleasant. He expressed these views during an Iftar Dinner hosted by Indian High Commission at a local hotel in Islamabad. The Iftar-Dinner was attended by a large number of people from different walks of life and the guests expressed desire for peaceful ties between the two countries.
Talking to newsmen during Iftar Dinner, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Mr Gautam Bambawale said a peaceful atmosphere was created after the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narindra Modi to Lahore on December 25 last year. But soon the “right atmosphere created by the visit was destroyed” due to the Pathankot Attack. Replying to a question, he fully endorsed that there should be competition between the two countries not only in cricket but hockey too as both the countries have great achievements in these two games at world level. He added that such activities will bring the people of India and Pakistan more close to each other. Responding to a question, Mr Bambawale said India is ready to discuss all outstanding issues including Sir Creek once the talks started.
Many believe in Islamabad that both courtiers have a silent desire to restore halted relations but they do not wanted to scarify its ego at once. India should think the steps taken by Pakistani government in recent months are very courageous; New Delhi had blamed Pakistan-based Militant Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) for Pathankot Attack. Pakistan not only registered an FIR against alleged members of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) but also arrested its chief Maulana Masood Azhar for questioning.
Followed by a five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising officials from police and Intelligence agencies from Pakistan had visited India between March 27 and 31 to collect evidence regarding the Pathankot attack. Now India requested Pakistan to allow its investigators to visit the country to question alleged masterminds of the attack. Pakistan responded positively has replied that it will decide after Eid-ul-Fitr whether or not to allow Indian investigators to visit the country in connection with their probe into Pathankot airbase attack.
So when India says they had started new journey to restore peace in south Asia through Indian prime minister 25th December visit of Pakistan but that was derailed by militants they should also keep in mind Pakistan’s response and latter developments in this regard are also extraordinary.
No doubt Kashmir is a core issue between India and Pakistan. But besides Kashmir there are two main hurdles to restore lasting peace between Pakistan and India, first the Mumbai Attacks terror incident whose court proceedings are continued since 2008 when Pakistan arrested eight Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) culprits including its alleged master mind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. India rightly objected that the proceedings of Mumbai attacks case is too slow despite Pakistani response that who says delay is happening because of Indian witness. Further fueled the Indian concerns when Lakhvi was released on bail last year in April. Second the 2007 Samjhauta Express incident.
Like the desire of Mumbai attacks victim’s families who are waiting for justice in India there are certain affected families who are watching Indian actions to punish the responsible of Samjhauta Express incident. But unfortunately both countries following the policy of tit far tat to deal these cases and when some one raises the finger of objections they respond innocently. Last year in April an Anti Terrorist Court (ATC) accepted the bail of alleged Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Haryana High Court of Punjab also granted the bail of Samjhauta Express alleged handler of RSS leader Swami Aseemanand in august same year.
Still the blame game is continuing but some actions of both courtiers’ civil and military establishments are very encouraging. Like Pakistan who accepted that the Pathankot attackers were Pakistani, Indian also at least accepted that Kulbhushan Yadav was a former officer of Indian navy.
Most encouraging was a statement of Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif while addressing the participants of a course at National Defense University last week in which he categorically stated that Pakistan is opposed to using proxies against other countries and no country will be allowed to operate proxies against Pakistan. Now it is up to the leadership of Pakistan and India to benefit from the space provided by the actions of leadership of both countries leaving the policy of tit for tat. And if they continued their past stance and ego the only beneficiaries will be the hardliner and extremists minority across the borders.
The Writer is a Free Lancer Journalist and runs a Daily Online News Paper “The Fortress” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org