India and Pakistan have always remained on loggerheads due to various disputes including the Kashmir Problem. However, both countries have tried to bring peace and harmony in the region.
The article deals with the history of peace efforts made by both countries and why it is important for India and Pakistan to give peace a chance.Relations between India and Pakistan have always been marred by wide range of issues including territorial disputes, allegations & counter allegations of terrorism & water related disputes. Although both sides have often resolved to solve all these disputes during their 63 years history, no concrete effort or notable achievement has been made to date & relations between the two have stayed at a point, which in no way can be considered best.
Most analysts belonging to both India and Pakistan believe that the people on each side of the border support peace and want both countries to come close; however, it does not suit to the military and civil establishments of both sides. Religious hard liners in India and Pakistan have also played a major role in inciting hatred among the people over the years.
The foundation of peace process between India & Pakistan was laid down back in 1972, when Prime Minister of India Indra Gandhi & President of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto met at Shimla & signed the famous Simla Agreement, after which India returned 90,000 war prisoners of Pakistan captured during the war of 1971 alongwith captured area in the west. They also decided that all the disputes would be solved through bilateral negotiations between the two countries. Simla Agreement also paved the way for establishment of renewed diplomatic & trade relations between the two countries. However, the good work started in 70s was stopped in the 80’s & relations between the two countries deteriorated after the Siachen dispute erupted thus halting the peace process between the two countries.
Although, during early 90’s, governments of both India and Pakistan continued their efforts to restore peace, major breakthrough was achieved in 1997 when prime ministers of both countries met twice & rounds of talks were held between the foreign secretaries for identification & resolution of outstanding issues. Although these talks did not bring much success but resulted in a major boost to peace process when in February 1999, PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India visited Lahore & signed three agreements with Pakistan including the famous “Dosti Bus Service” through Wagah Border. It is believed that both the countries were very close to an agreement on the longstanding dispute of Kashmir during this visit only for a military adventurism by then Chief of Army Staff Gen Musharraf in Kargil, which led to a war like situation & reversed the peace efforts.
In 2001, two years after Gen Musharraf overthrew democratic government in Pakistan through a military coup, a summit was held in Agra, India for resolution of disputed but the talks broke down once again due to interventions made by military and civil bureaucracy. Since then, various incidents have occurred on both sides of the border, which have taken trust deficit between India and Pakistan to new heights. Still, governments of both countries are trying to start negotiations to establish peace in the region. A recent step was taken by Pakistan when they decided to grant Most Favoured Nation status to India to start bilateral trade on easy terms.
Politics of the world has changed during the last ten years. Sub continent has its greater strategic importance in the modern era. With American forces ready to leave Afghanistan in 2014, it is India and Pakistan, which have to play their role for creating stability in the region. Recent weeks have shown that Taliban are on the rise again and India & Pakistan should join hands to curb this menace called terrorism. Peace in the region can only be established if the two countries sit down and find solutions to all the outstanding issues including the Kashmir problem, which has remained bone of contention since the time of independence.
It is absolutely necessary, not only for both countries but for the region as well to forget the past and move forward with a resolve to create peace and harmony. For once let us forget what Bal Thakray or Hafiz Saeed have to say for relations between India and Pakistan. The people of both countries want peace and friendship, they realize that hatred would take them nowhere and that is what our leaders have to understand. Let’s move forward, let’s give peace a chance. – Waqas Iqbal