Kashmir Day might have passed, but Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Which flower should you
give to an estranged neighbour who refuses to talk? But nothing says “I want to talk” like missed calls. There’s apparently been plenty of those missed calls from Prime Minister Imran Khan but the answer from Narendra Modi has remained “Can’t talk, WhatsApp only”.
How does one change that?
Like the issue of Kashmir persisting all our and our ancestors’
lifetime, we did hope that India-Pakistan talks would also continue. Plot twist: It didn’t. Since 2008, there has been no bilateral dialogue between the two countries. And after the 2015 Modi and Nawaz Sharif surprise meeting in Lahore, Pakistan leaders haven’t met at all. Even the media hype over “who first
smiled and waved at whom” at international summits has withered away.
So, where are we now?
Even if love isn’t in the air, at least peace is. Or at least
the good-old-days’ talk about peace and tranquillity is. Who better to signal peace but the army chief of Pakistan? “It is time to extend hand of peace in all directions,” Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa said recently. One hand extending peace, the other holding his own plate of omelette — what else can one hope for? Or given the past experiences of talks, does India think that extending a hand would mean hath kar jana?
‘Yaar’ or not?
is the curious case of PM Khan who still hasn’t recovered from Modi snubbing him. “I couldn’t understand why Modi didn’t want to talk,” he perhaps thinks. But Khan understands that he wants to talk to Modi on Kashmir, the same Modi he wanted to see re-elected and solving the issue of Kashmir. So, in one speech you go on to compare the Modi government with ‘Nazis’, while in the next, you want Modi to be your ‘yaar’. How does that work? Nonstop rhetoric will win you hashtags, but that doesn’t take forward the bilateral
Then there is the dilemma of foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. One day, he tells us Pakistan won’t talk to India till it rolls back the scrapping of Article
370. The next day, he asks why India fears talking to Pakistan? Consider
this the modern version of Allama Iqbal’s “shikwa, jawab-e-shikwa (complaint, response to the complaint)”. Only making it more potent with Qureshi’s theatrics. Unlucky, Iqbal isn’t around to witness
it. Lucky us, or not.
There was also special assistant to Imran Khan on national security division and strategic policy planning, Moeed Yusuf,
who was the first to break the news that India desires to start talks with Pakistan. Yusuf
seemed to imply that India was dying to talk to Pakistan, only that India was oblivious of
its desires, as we later found out. “Pakistan will take two steps if India takes one,” he now tells us. All hangs in balance over the “if”.
A continuing K-drama
What now? Pakistan is ready to talk to India, but no one is asking India what
it wants, or if it even cares.
Pakistan’s hope of going back to the golden era of talks, confidence-building measures, people-to-people
contact, thora-bohot Kashmir chooran, then a major act of terrorism (Mumbai 2008, Pathankot 2016) and then a reset again, has unfortunately passed. The new reality, as much as Pakistan doesn’t want to
see it, is that those days are over and Kashmir talks is hardly even a chooran that sells anymore. Especially with the incompetent government of Imran Khan, with whom even political rivals at home don’t want to talk.
We are told that a strategy is needed
to foil Delhi’s Kashmir plan. So, even after two years we still don’t have a strategy? For now, Pakistan President Arif Alvi can continue to lead Kashmir Day solidarity walks alongside Azad Jammu and Kashmir PM Raja Farooq Haider, against whom the Pakistan government had recently registered a sedition case. That’s some sight for sore eyes.