Pushing forward cooperation

Whilst Mohali may have brought India and Pakistan together in the spirit of sportsmanship and cricketing fever, New Delhi reinforced the original resolve that both countries have to encourage peace and stability in the region. The meeting of Indian Home Secretary Shri Gopal K Pillai and Pakistan’s Interior Secretary Qamar Zaman Chaudhry for two-day talks has revived the promises made with such fervour in Sharm el-Sheikh in July 2009. Both secretaries have paved the way now for the upcoming foreign secretaries meeting and then the foreign ministers meeting by reviving the peace process. It seems that finally wisdom has dawned on the representatives of both countries to coordinate a counter-terrorism plan by sharing intelligence in an organised manner. Hence they have announced that plans are afoot to establish a “terror hotline” to be used by the interior secretaries, which will allow real-time intelligence sharing on any perceived and real terror threats. By far, this is the furthest we have come in making any real headway in addressing the terror threat being faced by the region as a whole. It was also decided that both countries would be willing hosts for investigators — from India — and a judicial commission — from Pakistan — in connection with the Mumbai and Samjhauta Express attacks respectively.

It is encouraging to see that the door is finally being opened to coordinate satisfactory investigations into the events that sabotaged the peace process.While manoeuvres to build mutual trust are on the table and the meeting repeated the usual rhetoric of remaining engaged to resolve all “outstanding issues”, it must be reiterated that terrorism must hold precedence over all other matters, something that seems to have been understood in this recent round of talks. Whether India or Pakistan, the truth remains that terror knows no boundaries. Whenever the peace process between these two volatile neighbours has been initiated, the ominous threat of terrorists wiping out any important progress made between the two countries always remains large. A single act can obliterate vital developments towards stability in these trying times. With the two sides once again tracing their steps back to the promises made before the Mumbai attack, turning the relationship back onto sounder footings, it seems as though they have both realised that they cannot tackle and dismantle a terror threat that will never respect borders, law and lives if they try to go it alone.

It is hoped that these decisions will be implemented without reservations. Pak-India dialogue, although widely anticipated, has of late not been taken seriously because of the terrorists’ sabotage of any real progress. While progress is still a long time coming on many issues of the past such as Kashmir, the real immediate problem is the struggle against terrorism. Terrorism has held the region hostage. It has obliterated any real developments, whether on economic and trade cooperation, or people-to-people contact. We have been painfully slow in engaging our neighbour for the sake of the region’s stability. These efforts to share intelligence and investigations will be a thorn in the side of all those forces that wish to see the two countries perpetually in conflict. It is high time the terrorist tail is no longer allowed to wag the dog, i.e. the interests of both countries in the normalisation of relations and peace. – Dailytimes