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April 18, 2021

Weaving peace

Editorial

 
April 18, 2021

Creating a situation in which India and Pakistan can abandon the traditional acrimony that has existed between them for decades may not be simple. But to some extent, it is possible to at least find a situation in which neither country feels constantly threatened by the terrible concept of war, or other attacks on its soil. Recently, the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN made public a letter written by UN rapporteurs to the Indian government condemning its actions on August 5, 2019 to effectively annex the territory of Occupied Kashmir by dividing the Valley into two union territories, and bringing in laws that ended the limited autonomy the state enjoyed. In addition, by allowing those from outside to buy land in Kashmir, the Indian government is also trying to change the demographics in the occupied area. The UN team has also condemned the consistent abuse of human rights in the area and said that the blockage of the internet, raids on groups, random arrests etc are acts against humanity.

The question is: what is to be done. While Pakistan has said again and again, and what was once again reiterated by the Foreign Office on Thursday, that it is willing to do everything possible to work towards some kind of dialogue with India, this may not be easy. India has been scornful of third-party negotiation, but now a new player in the India-Pakistan game, the UAE, may be willing to step into the situation. The country has said it would like to facilitate talks at least to a degree where ties between the two nations move back towards some kind of normalcy, even if it is not possible to establish an ideal sense of harmony between them. Of course, Pakistan and India and particularly the huge population of both countries would benefit greatly from harmony in terms of trade, travel, job opportunities, education, health and much more. The UAE could help push matters along by creating some kind of truce which would allow both countries to work with at least some degree of cooperation and prevent the constant accusations and counter accusations that continue between the two South Asian nations month after month and year after year.

Things have been particularly difficult since the Modi government took oath in 2014. If Pakistan and India agree to move towards some kind of dialogue, the UAE could indeed be a useful partner. In the same way, the UN has made its position very clear. India, as the world's most populous democracy, must amend its record on human rights and it can only do so by directing its attention towards the entrenched issue of Kashmir and talking to Pakistan about it, so that there can be some progress and some element of an end to the suffering the Kashmiri people who have been caught in a terrible trap for over 70 years.