A British think tank has carried a commentary piece that serves as a timely reminder that Indo-Pak peace lies at the heart of regional development. While also confirming that the Bajwa Doctrine is fully operational. Which is good news on both counts. Not least because if any state institution is to come good on normalising bilateral ties it will be security apparatus. For it alone has the power to contain the fallout of the religious right.
Titled Pakistan’s Military Reaches out to India, the article appears on the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). It offers an important recap of how military-to-military ties have begun to flourish — often times against all odds — under the stewardship of Gen Bajwa. And it is true. For just last month, the COAS took Kashmir off the backburner and included it in the list of all outstanding issues that may be resolved through dialogue; as opposed to the barrel of many guns.
This is befitting a modern and democratic nation that wants to live at peace with its neighbours. It is hoped that India reciprocates. Though Pakistan will likely have to do more to convince New Delhi of sincere commitment; particularly on the militant-mainstreaming front. After all, had it not been for a sneaky presidential promulgation declaring Hafiz Saeed a domestic terrorist — the former Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief, whom India believes to be the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, would have been hitting the campaign trail. All ready to woo voters at the ballot in the name of political reincarnation. Presently, Saeed is appealing the ordinance.
Be that as it may, the Indo-Pak militaries are building on the unprecedented goodwill gesture by Gen Bajwa that saw the Indian military attaché and diplomats attend the Pakistan Day military parade. Indeed, the two sides appear to be on a roll with another first in the pipeline. For come September, the two will participate in multi-nation counter-terror exercises under the banner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). It is hoped that this momentum is maintained. Ditto when it comes to India and the question of accepting the Pakistani security apparatus’ repeated invitations to join CPEC.
All of which raises concerns as to where the civvies’ fit into any sort of peace process. Currently, it seems that they do not. This may be accepted. For now. But it should be a matter of priority for the incoming set-up to be an active player in mapping the way forward in a show of unity. In reality, however, it makes sense for the military to take the lead in matters of border security and forging personal ties with counterparts across the eastern front. Though this must be undertaken with full parliamentary backing. Indeed, if Islamabad can prove it is serious about peace and, if in turn, New Delhi can commit to self-determination for the Kashmiris — there is no reason why such a strongman approach cannot be reworked vis-à-vis Afghanistan. This might at least go some way to prompting an American withdrawal sooner rather than later.
But for now, it is time to give Indo-Pak peace a chance. *
Published in Daily Times, May 6th 2018.