| by N.S.Venkataraman

( September 29, 2014, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) India and Pakistan have been in conflict with each other for over sixty five years now. There were bitter wars between these two countries and then several attempts for reconciliation as well to promote peace on the border . But, nothing has really worked. In the last sixty five years, the ground reality is that neither Pakistan nor India have gained anything by continuing and persisting with an atmosphere of distrust and mutual accusations.

Now, Mr. Narendra Modi has said in his speech in U N assembly that India cannot engage in peace talks with Pakistan, until such time that Pakistan would create a right climate by not supporting any acts of subversion in India. Pakistan has also said similar thing on many occasions. With both the countries mutually accusing each other on various counts, one wonders as to whether the conflict between India and Pakistan would be eternal.

What is particularly surprising is ,that even amongst such distrust between both the governments, many citizens of both the countries still seem to have mutual respect and admiration for each other. There are many admirers of Pakistani cricketers in India and recent India’s achievements in sending Mangalyan to Mars have been warmly appreciated by the Pakistani press. Several citizens of Pakistan have been visiting India for medical treatment and they have praised the care with which Indian doctors have treated them. In whatever little exchange programmes that both the countries had in the past, the cultural ambassadors between India and Pakistan were getting on well without any feelings of animosity. Under the circumstances, one gets an impression that the conflict between India and Pakistan are not between the citizens of both the countries but only with the governments of both these countries under the control of politicians.

Mr. C.Rajagopalachari, the first Governor General of independent India and an intellectual who could think beyond his time said several decades back ,that the best way of promoting amity between India and Pakistan would be to focus on the areas of possible cooperation instead on the areas of conflict. He said that establishment and promotion of people to people contact would be the best method of cementing relationships with the neighbours, so that it would be possible to maintain a cordial climate where the peace talks to settle the outstanding issues can be successfully initiated and concluded.

The economic and industrial growth of Pakistan have not been on healthy lines, in view of several internal issues and the unproductive money spent on maintaining the army that seem to be obsessed with threat from India. In the same way, millions of dollars are being spent by Government of India in maintaining the army to defend its area of control in Jammu and Kashmir. Those who have gained from the military expenditure by both these developing countries are only the weapon producers and merchants in the developed countries.

After listening to Mr. Modi’s speech in U N assembly, the Pakistan foreign minister has said that it was a case of over reaction. Perhaps, Pakistan foreign minister’s observation is correct. There is general feeling amongst discerning observers in India that Mr. Nawab Sheriff really want to end conflict with India , which was reflected by his readily accepting Mr. Modi’s invitation to attend his swearing in ceremony at New Delhi recently. . Perhaps, Mr. Sheriff , by his hawkish observation on Kashmir issue in his speech in United Nations , was only adopting a public posture to please the hawkish elements in Pakistan who seem to be posing threat to his position. Many people think that Mr.Modi could have shown some understanding of Mr. Nawaz Sheriff’s compulsion in Pakistan, as it is in the interest of India also to promote peace in Pakistan on firm grounds.

Diplomatic negotiations and peace manoeuvre are conducted by statesman like rulers in discreet manner with patience and long term understanding of the ground realities. Perhaps, Mr. Modi could have restrained himself to a statement of disapproval of Mr. Nawaz Sheriff’s observations on Kashmir in U N assembly , instead of closing the doors for talks and putting conditions for resuming talks with Pakistan.