Time for de-escalation

Published: January 20, 2013
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An Indian watch tower (front L) and a Pakistani observation post (back R) at the India-Pakistan border near Jammu. PHOTO: AFP

An Indian watch tower (front L) and a Pakistani observation post (back R) at the India-Pakistan border near Jammu. PHOTO: AFP

The recent skirmishes between Pakistan and India along the Line of Control (LoC), the circumstances surrounding which are still shrouded in mystery, should have been little more than a small hiccup on the road to peace. There was certainly no need, despite the senseless and tragic deaths that accompanied it, for this to elevate to a defining moment in the rocky relationship between the two countries. To his credit, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India, Salman Bashir, has called for a de-escalation in tensions and said that the “Pakistan-bashing” India is indulging in needs to be toned down a notch or two. Usually, when Pakistan takes a blame-India-first approach to problems, it is doing so to cover up its own misdeeds. This time, however, Mr Bashir has a reason to be worried about the rhetoric and actions emanating from India.

Among the steps taken by India to needlessly prolong the ramifications of the LoC incident are the last-minute cancellation of plays to be performed in Delhi by the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa). This followed the forced departure of Pakistani hockey players meant to take part in the Hockey India League and the cancellation of a concert by Pakistani pop singer Ali Zafar. Indian extremists are also trying to prevent our women’s cricket team from playing in the upcoming World Cup, to be played in India. Given the jingoistic nature of the reaction to the LoC incident in the Indian media, one is not surprised that what is essentially a cultural boycott has been proposed. But the Indian government should have been mature enough to nip such suggestions in the bud rather than encourage them.

There is no better way of forging peace with India than through such cultural exchanges. Essentially banning them altogether only strengthens the hand of those opposed to peace between the neighbours. It will lead to greater misunderstandings and potential to whip up nationalist sentiment in the future. Pakistan’s first cricket tour to India in five years was seen as a rousing success both on and off the field and should have opened the floodgates to greater contact. We should heed Mr Bashir’s words and separate these essential interactions from whatever political passions may be spurred by border incidents.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2013. 

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Ifti
    Jan 20, 2013 - 2:53AM

    It is cold blooded Murder.Same people have killed him who killed Benazir.You know who?

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  • BlackJack
    Jan 20, 2013 - 3:08AM

    There is no better way of forging peace with India than through such cultural exchanges.
    Or perhaps by not beheading their soldiers?

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  • vasan
    Jan 20, 2013 - 6:28AM

    The “rousing success” of the recent Pak cricketer’s tour of India has upset yr establishment and army along with nonstate actors. This resulted in the border skirmishes and beheading. Is this a part of the cultural exchange you would like to have ?? Indians dont want to have such violent and brutal actions from Pakistan. What are u doing to control this.

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  • ghairatmand
    Jan 20, 2013 - 7:44AM

    what about the need to identify and punish preparators of heinous act at LOC and 26/11? What should pakistan be doing other then denying things?

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  • karma
    Jan 20, 2013 - 9:13AM

    Let us be clear what the problem is.

    The problem stems from non-civility of armed forces. Armed forces are by nature trained to be aggressive and attuned to attrition. Civilians typically have sensibilities that wants to live well, be in peace and prosper.

    The problem is when Military starts dictating/overseeing policy. They will bring their training of being paranoid, seeking advantage over others and tit-for-tat responses without nuances.

    Only way there can be any normalcy between India-Pakistan is when civilians can dictate policy in both countries. In India, it has always been the norm. But, in Pakistan it has never been the case. So, as long as Pakistan army is dominant – there can’t be peace in the region.

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  • Arijit Sharma
    Jan 20, 2013 - 3:16PM

    “…There is no better way of forging peace with India than through such cultural exchanges.….”

    Have you given a thought about making the LOC the International Boundary ?

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  • Arijit Sharma
    Jan 20, 2013 - 3:21PM

    Among the steps taken by India to needlessly prolong the ramifications of the LoC incident…

    Similar opinions were voiced suggesting that India obsessing about Mumbai for too long. And before that there was suggestions about letting “Kargil” being a “jo-hua/so-hua”. Don’t you people take anything seriously ?

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  • ramanan
    Jan 20, 2013 - 3:37PM

    to all Pakistani liberals and our aman-ki-asha-types, let Pakistan first stop teaching hate to children in your schools in the name of Islamic studies. We have no illusions about Pakisan’s civil society till such time such indoctrination is continued in Schools. Even when I see your cricketer or singer on TV, the first thought that crosses my mind is that he/she has been taught hatred towards us and they either killed or drove away all minorites in their country. Why should I expect them to have any goodwill towards me or my country ?

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  • ahmed41
    Jan 20, 2013 - 5:11PM

    @Arijit Sharma:
    It is !!!!!!

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  • Happens
    Jan 20, 2013 - 7:50PM

    We can’t be mature by receiving bullets , but you can be mature by beheading soldiers . Wow!! Keep your so called “culture” with you , we don’t import extremist culture.

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  • Naem Rashid
    Jan 20, 2013 - 9:39PM

    Pakistan is a great country with great people. But due to unknown reason the entire wold is against Pakistan. Very unfortunate world hates and conspires this nation gifted by Qaid. Thank you Qaid for gifting Pakistan.

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  • realist
    Jan 20, 2013 - 9:55PM

    Frankly, we Indians need zero contacts with pakistanis.

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  • Alexander
    Jan 20, 2013 - 10:23PM

    What culture exchanges? of islamic rigidity and hypocrisy that dominates Pakistan landscape.??? There is NO better way to peace than pakistan working on its own society and how to build a secular society. ONLY then India will ever respect pakistan. Does anyone need to tell a nation of 17 crore that change comes from within????

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  • Raja
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:42PM

    Indo-Pak peace ? Mian kiya baat karte ho… It will never happen. At best we will have brief peace followed by hostility again and again…Epicenter of ” Hate-India” is in Pakistani Punjab. Earlier I used to think that the root cause of hate is religious difference. Its not so. Religion is only used to further that hate which is already embedded. How come Indians don’t hate Afghans or Iranians who invaded India many times more than the Pakistanis ? We won’t have peace until we understand the root causes. I am fully convinced that sooner or later there will be nuclear war between India and Pakistan.

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  • Nauman
    Jan 22, 2013 - 6:41AM

    @realist
    Thankyou! Please start by not posting comments any longer on this site…..

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