Electoral compulsions

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The irony here is as stark as it gets. In a significant turn of events of sorts, the prime minister of Pakistan has pinned his hopes of not only restoring peace in the region but also the resolution of the longstanding Kashmir dispute on the belligerent Bharatiya Janata Party. He expressed his hope in a talk with some foreign journalists that there may be a better chance of peace talks with India if the Hindu nationalist party wins the Indian general elections that start today

In his view the Congress party – if elected – might be too scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Indian held Kashmir, fearing a backlash from the right wing.

This is in sharp contrast to the BJP’s proposal in his manifesto to strip the region of Kashmir of its privileged status where people from other states cannot buy property in the Indian held Kashmir.

That Pakistan feels that the BJP is its best bet if Kashmir issue is to be resolved is mindboggling to say the least, yet it makes sense when put in perspective, as the same party has not only violated Pakistan’s airspace in a long time but also is basing its campaign on purely nationalistic grounds.

As a result the two countries engaged in an aerial dogfight, exchanged gunfire along the Line of Control and have remained on high alert since. The common man suffered, as we saw a Pakistani Muslim prisoner stoned to death in an Indian jail. Indian Muslims in general are in trouble having to suffer at the hands of zealots.

Interestingly, polls suggest that the recent tension between the two neighbours gave a boost to the BJP. Whatever that means.

Prime Minister Khan also said that it was vital for Pakistan to have peace with its neighbours, Afghanistan, India and Iran, if it was to have the kind of economy needed to pull 100 million people out of poverty. This is the gist of all the argument that one should never be unmindful of.  People of the two countries have suffered immensely at the hands of this confrontation. As the elections get underway, it should be hoped that whoever does the Indian electorate elect to enthrone Delhi realises the urgency of this matter.

Pakistan has made a start by showing its determination to dismantle all militias in the country. It has also made significant progress on Karatarpur Corridor besides issuing as many as 2,200 visas to Sikhs for Baisakhi celebrations. And let’s not forget around 400 fishermen that are being released phased-wise.