It is obvious now that the task of healing ties with India is not going to be an easy one. Days after the prime ministers of both countries met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Ufa, Russia, Pakistan claimed that it had shot down an Indian spy droneThe Indian high commissioner was summoned near Bhimber, after it allegedly drifted across the Line of Control (LoC), while a day later, four civilians, three in the Sialkot sector and one in Rawalakot in Azad Kashmir, were killed as a result of firing across the LoC by Indian forces. to the Pakistan Foreign Office and a formal complaint was lodged. It is obviously not a good omen that these incidents of open hostility came only days after there had been formal expressions of goodwill from both sides, following the prime ministerial meeting in Ufa and statements about reviving diplomatic contact at various levels.
However, what is encouraging is that even after the latest firing incidents, Pakistan has continued to call for better relations between both sides. Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, after meeting the Indian high commissioner, spoke of the need to maintain “peace and tranquillity”.
The same sentiments were expressed by the Foreign Office spokesperson. It is encouraging that Pakistan retains its commitment to establishing more stable and less hostile relations with India. Despite the provocative actions taken from across the border, the tone remains even. We must now hope that New Delhi recognises there is wisdom in peace. Continuing the skirmishes over the border, which created so much animosity last year or engaging in other similar actions, will obviously not help the cause of peace. Pakistan has exhibited great restraint and much patience. We can only hope that this policy will have a positive impact and result in a restoration of friendlier ties with an important neighbour. Over the last year, there has been a significant rise in aggression from both sides, and Islamabad and New Delhi need to work together to bring it to an end. Any attempts made towards lowering tensions and rhetoric will be most welcome and much needed.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2015.
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