When Pakistani and Indian soldiers dance

Published: September 3, 2018
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The writer is Senior Journalist and host of ‘Capital Connection’ on Tribune24/7. He tweets @Kamran_Yousaf

The writer is Senior Journalist and host of ‘Capital Connection’ on Tribune24/7. He tweets @Kamran_Yousaf

It should have been a big breaking story. But there was a near-complete blackout on this side of the border. The coverage was not prominent either on the other side of the frontier too. Perhaps, the story does not fit into the narratives the two neighbours pursue for their respective domestic audiences. Nevertheless, in this day and age where social media is more powerful, the story of Pakistani and Indian soldiers dancing together was bound to attract attention and even trigger debate. The venue was Russia where Pakistani and Indian troops were participating in the joint military drills under the banner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

On the second last day of the anti-terror exercises codenamed “Peaceful Mission 2018” Indian army invited troops from the participating countries, including Pakistan, to celebrate the “India Day”. The event soon turned into a meeting ground for soldiers from both countries who were seen testing their dancing skills on Bollywood tunes. Some on social media began to question what would have happened had politicians from the two countries danced together. Their loyalty to the country would have certainly been questioned as had happened recently with former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu after he hugged Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa during the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Sidhu faced tough time from his countrymen, who described his act as treacherous.

Despite hostility at the government level, the fact remains that people of both countries by and large go along nicely with each other. And this is true even in the case of men in uniform. For years, Pakistan and Indian troops have been part of the UN peacekeeping missions and they go about their business without any hassle. However, unfortunately that private bonhomie is rarely reflected in our bilateral ties. The reasons are obvious. The two neighbours have a long history of bitter relationship because of the unresolved disputes, including longstanding Kashmir. But the question is for how long the two neighbours would avoid each other and how long the people of the two countries would be held hostage to the false egos of their respective governments.

Today, relations between the two countries have reached a level where media would feel reluctant to run stories that may give some positive vibes. But someone somewhere has to break that logjam. Pakistan has a new government. Prime Minister Imran Khan has already offered an olive branch to India for restarting the dialogue process. The good news is that for the first time in many years, Pakistan has a Prime Minister who enjoys the backing of all state institutions. The unprecedented welcome given to him during his visit to the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi was seen as refreshing change. The top brass standing in queue and saluting the elected Prime Minister was not an ordinary event. He was also seen presiding over the meeting at the GHQ, something his predecessors could only wish for. The icing on the cake is that the Army Chief stated in categorical terms that the armed forces like other state institutions are bound to follow the elected government. Some may say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. However, let’s not doubt the intention of the Army Chief and take his statement at its face value. The newly-elected Prime Minister has a historic opportunity to take some of the difficult decisions. India must take him seriously when he offered a hand of friendship. Unlike, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Khan is seen as someone who cannot betray and compromise on the national interest. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also enjoys the same status in his country. This may present a glimmer of hope for the two countries for a new beginning. But for now, we must applaud the dance performance of our men in uniform.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2018.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Avtar
    Sep 3, 2018 - 1:25PM

    Good news story. Having lived in Canada for 50 years now, I met a couple of Pakistanis on my first day of arrival in Canada and we are still friends despite different career paths and growth trajectories.Recommend

  • Max
    Sep 3, 2018 - 8:51PM

    There was always a possibility of peaceful coexistence but both countries kept going in the opposite direction. The leadership has always a likening for making statements irrespective if these benefit the national interest or not. Compare peace and conflict through “cost and benefit analysis,” and you will see the results. Recommend

  • Salim
    Sep 3, 2018 - 9:26PM

    Commendable heart-to-heart sentiments aptly expressed. Music has no boundaries and so alos the goodwill and friendship between two neighbours who have so much in common. Need to keep up such co-exercises for confidence building amongst the teaming civilians and divided families. Recommend

  • RealtyCheck
    Sep 4, 2018 - 1:14AM

    There are always a few people who think differently. But, the truth is, there will be no talks with Pakistan. Period.Recommend

  • Komal s
    Sep 4, 2018 - 7:26AM

    Every time a new government comes, Pakistanis get excited and say, this guy has control over state owned nstitutions and very soon realise it is not really true, but takes them longer to acknowledge nothing has really changed. Pakistani media itself claimed army did everything to get Imran elected, if that is true, Imran better be indebted to them forever. Meanwhile do not expect other countries to take 180 degree turn in their foreign policy, just because you guys are optimistic. Recommend

  • rk singh
    Sep 4, 2018 - 9:08AM

    @Max:

    India never had problems with Pakistan. Till 1965, there was no visa required for Pakistanis travelling to India. Everything changed after that. Pakistan attacked India. After this, there were three more attacks from Pakistan. In 1971 , 1999 and 1008 in Mumbai. Who can take Pakistan seriously? Even Afghanistan and Iran are not happy with Pakistan. Many Pakistanis call themselves as Indians while travelling in Pakistan. Problem is one sided and very immature. Because of this immaturity, Pakistan is on course to ruin.Recommend

  • Tyggar
    Sep 4, 2018 - 11:56AM

    Apart from Nostalgic Punjabis and a few border states, the rest of India has nothing in common with PakistanisRecommend

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