Majority of South Asians back increasing focus on peace and growth in Indian-Pakistani relations

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 January, 2016, 5:17pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 January, 2016, 5:17pm

I refer to your editorial “India and Pakistan must work towards peace despite spoilers on both sides of the divide” (January 11). These two countries are important for not only peace on the continent, but also prosperity for South Asia. It is high time both work together for these ends; when India is moving towards a bigger role on the global platform, be it economic or political, it needs support from its neighbour. Today, Pakistan too is encouragingly moving towards democratic stability and greater participation in the area of international trade.

The surprise stopover in Pakistan last month by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, resulting in a brief meeting between him and Pakistani president Nawaz Sharif, is a step ahead of all diplomatic efforts taken previously. Our prime minister has properly reflected the aspiration and sentiments of the common people of both nations.

A large section of the population in Pakistan and India have always preferred better trade ties between these two countries. But this kind of move faces setback from groups of religious fanatics who prosper due to a history of armed conflicts. Terrorist attacks in the name of religion afflict both countries.

Undoubtedly, India has shown self-restraint and acted maturely. The attack earlier this month on India’s Pathankot air base, by a group of armed terrorists from across the border, was a living example of some of the tensions between the two potentially peaceful nations (“Anatomy of an attack: Missed clues, lax security and wasted time in run-up to raid on Indian air base”, January 5). These terrorist groups thrive on illegal arms dealing, drug smuggling and many other criminal activities, but use religion to garner support from the people.

Both nations have many things in common, including some problems. If Pakistan and India work together to apprehend criminal groups, as the UN peace laws require, the border tension will subside and development in both nations can skyrocket. Both nations need wealth to spend on health care, education, building infrastructure, and law and order. Terrorist activities, if supported by any nation to disturb the others, will always result in more harm to the sponsoring nations. This has been amply proved in many countries across the globe.

Terrorist groups need the support of the masses and they always resort to religious sentiments to get it. It is high time that progressive-minded people from both nations come forward and support the initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other peacekeeping leaders in converting this region into a hub of economic activities. Your editorial in emphasising his initiatives and making people aware of the peace spoilers in the process is highly appreciated.

Amitabh Banerjee, Wan Chai