Prime Minster Imran Khan says it is vital for Pakistan to have peace with its neighbours — Afghanistan, India and Iran — if it is to have the kind of economy needed to pull a hundred million people out of poverty. This shows that the PM well understands the importance of peaceful borders for economic uplift. While there is nothing unusual about this approach — as incumbents, in general, look forward to peace within the country and on borders so that they could pursue their policies for the masses undisturbed — it does require unusual measures to translate this approach into a national policy. As Prime Minister Khan once again offered India an olive branch during a recent interview with a group of foreign journalists, he sounded determined to take some unusual steps. The PM vowed to dismantle “all militias in the country, including those involved in Kashmir” while claiming full support of the armed forces in the context.
While India’s long-maintained policy of dilly-dallying on talks with Pakistan needs no evidences, history is witness to Pakistan always stepping out first, in search of peace with India. Who could forget General (retd) Ziaul Haq springing up a surprise by flying to New Delhi on the pretext of watching a Test match between Pakistan and India in Jaipur in February 1987 at a time when the Indian troops massed along the Pakistani border. A vivid reminder of Pakistan’s wish for peace is Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s sudden handshake with former Indian PM Atal Behri Vajpayee during a Saarc summit in Kathmandu in January 2002, meant to convey to him Pakistan’s openness for talks despite India’s last-moment recoil at the Agra Summit.
PM Imran’s persistence on calling upon New Delhi to come to the dialogue table despite its clear disinterest in talks may be a subject of criticism for the opposition, but his pursuit for peace with India, in particular, does go in line with his vision for a welfare state. And to realise this vision of progress and prosperity, peace is a must.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2019.
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