When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his dramatic and surprise visit to Pakistan on December 26, eyebrows were raised all over the world. While Modi’s peace initiative and Nawaz Sharif’s response was applauded by well meaning people, many wondered whether the militants and extremists in Pakistan will allow the peace strategy of Modi and Sharif to succeed.
Therefore, not many were surprised when terrorists attacked the airbase in Pathankot in India on January 2, 2015, a few days after the peace initiative, with the objective of disrupting the peace process. This made the pessimists wonder whether peace process would be possible between India and Pakistan at all at any time now or in the future.
Of course, there are a lot of free wheeling observations in India that there could be difference of opinion between military in Pakistan and political leadership of the country with regard to recently initiated peace move between India and Pakistan. Of course, there was no basis for guessing that Pakistan military could be opposed to the peace initiative. Some elements in India have even said that the Pathankot terrorist act could have been planned by Pakistani military, which is again an unsubstantiated allegation. Of course, it is for the govt of Pakistan to put the record straight.
While the terrorist act has taken place and a few lives have been lost in India and the militants have been killed by the Indian army, the Prime Minister of Pakistan lost no time in condemning the terrorist act and expressing his determination that the peace initiative with India would be pursued. The Chief of Pakistani Army has also reacted and vowed to rid Pakistan from the scourge of terrorism, asserting that “all negative forces” would be scuttled. He also said that all in Pakistan should extend support to the military in eliminating the terrorists.
Now, the question is, after this recent Pathankot terrorist act, where is the peace initiative heading for ? It is totally in the hands of Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif to take a long term view about the importance of building peaceful relationship between both the countries for mutual benefit and ensure that the peace process would not fail due to the nefarious acts of the terrorists who do not want peace between both the countries.
The basic and strong factor in favour of the peaceful and progressive relationship between India and Pakistan is the overwhelming view of the citizens of both the countries that the attrition and war between India and Pakistan are counter productive and wasteful and have retarded the progress of both the countries. Whenever opportunities have been given by the politicial leadership of India and Pakistan, the citizens of both the countries have responded with warm feelings towards each other and have cooperated in all spheres without any illwill and with all good will.
Ultimately, to ensure that lasting peace between India and Pakistan would prevail, it is very important that people’s pressure in Pakistan and India should be relentlessly applied on government of both the countries to continue the peace process and take it to the logical end. Such application of people pressure is very much possible in India, where a strong democracy exists. However, one cannot be sure whether the well meaning citizens of Pakistan, who have good understanding of economic and global ground realities, would be able to apply such relentless pressure on Pakistan government, where it is widely believed that the Pakistani military leadership have a strong say in the country’s governance.
However, in the past, we have seen that the people’s pressure and movement have brought around visible changes even in countries under the control of ruthless and dictatorship sort of governments as we have seen in communist Russia, Hungary, Poland and recently in Myanmar.
It is for the citizens of India to create helpful conditions for the Pakistani citizens to create public opinion in favor of India Pakistan peace in Pakistan and support them by reacting to such terrorist acts with caution and understanding. The Indian media which often uses vituperative language while discussing about Pakistan should also review its approach and take a pragmatic and long term view, while distinguishing between the peace moves and the terrorist acts targeting disruption of peace initiatives.