Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Indo-Pak ties: Vox populi vox Dei: the voice of the people is the voice of God

"The life of a flower that blooms in a corner of my courtyard is only half a day. That stone with which I grind my spices is much more durable. Where will you find a better yardstick to measure truth?......To someone who doesn't appreciate flowers that stone is the greater reality by far. There's no risk of it withering away: it will last forever, not for half a day.
It will always crush and grind as needed for the kitchen, it will  prepare the ingredients you need. Life becomes tasteless if it isn't there".

 What's driving me crazy to quote Saratchandra Chattopadhayay here as I embark on another debate on peace initiatives between India and Pakistan or the supposed futility about it?

The overwhelming response to my last two blogs on Pakistan is actually driving me to refer to the masterpiece called 'The Final Question' by Saratchandra. Well, I have my reasons, 'flowers and stones' are two permanent ingredients in any Indo-Pak parleys.
Let me take 'stones' for hardliners from both sides ! Life would be really "tasteless" without them. Peace is hard owned phenomenon - best sum upped by Lord Krishna when he told Draupadi "even you have to make sacrifice of your five sons, because it's you who sparked off this battle of Kurukshetra".
In Indo-Pak context and especially on the backdrop of Ufa Joint Statement and tete-e-tete, such references do make sense.
One also needs to make an observation that for both the countries - since 1947 - it's turning out to be 'New Born at 68 years' -- especially in the context of working together and settling down as neighbours.
My emphasis has been clear that both Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi are aware of the doggedness of the old older. But they want to take the challenges head on.

Both have their compulsions too. Foremost of all of these is common people's wish. In both the countries notwithstanding the chest thumping crowd; the neo-middle class wants peace and restoration of normal economic and trading ties. Both Modi and Nawaz Sharif - as the ear-on-ground netas- realise it well that the neo-middle class in both their countries are emerging as powerful instruments of change --- especially the youths - for augmentation of peace and normalcy between the two countries.
This is what is generally understood to be: vox populi vox Dei: the voice of the people is the voice of God.

Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi are not first timers on this as Atal Behari Vajpayee and Gen Pervez Musharaf also recognised the importance of the same and did try for a breakthrough. 
We Indians could hate Gen Musharaf for Kargil misadventure but by December 17-18, 2003, when Vajpayee was reigning supreme in popularity in India, Musharaf had made a major climb down and president of Pakistan reversed Islamabad's well established stand regarding the UN resolutions on Kashmir. Much to the pleasure of Indian foreign policy engine room, he publicly stated "even though we are for the UN Security Council resolutions (on Kashmir)… now we have left that aside”. The Ufa statement - with no K word - has virtually endorsed this.

But it is also a fact that given peculiarity of domestic politics for both, the global or regional priorities could be yet again sacrificed at the altar of parochialism and populism.
Global or regional priorities are again sacrificed at the altar of parochialism or populism.
The disturbed feeling among both Pakistanis and Indians is that the tone of both Sharf and Modi could changes when they face certain hurdles in domestic politics. The challenge is tougher for Nawaz Sharif, who otherwise is also known as a hardtask master.
His biggest challenge is army and the so called public will and even aspirational youths and neo-middle class are not so powerful to neutralise the control of the military.
It's a pipe dream to presume that Sharif can dismantle the power structures in his country vis-a-vis army even as in 1997-98, Sharif acted quickly with firm hands and had cut the Presidency and the 'interfering' Supreme Court. He had also sacked Gen Jehangir Karamat as army chief in 1998 and was reportedly had similar plans for Musharaf too.
For Pakistan Prime Minister, even the economic compulsion vis-a-vis Narendra Modi is bigger. Unlike India, in Pakistan the economy is still largely feudal and hence often it surfaces in social networking that in Pakistan, while 80 per cent of people want peace with India; speaking of poverty is a taboo.

Peace in the neighbourhood for India and Pakistan will help both the countries to curtail on defence expenditures. To rescue the economy the Pakistanis are looking for cost cutting measures and Modi-Nawaz magic in India-Pakistan trade will be booster for transition. Whether the Ufa demeanor is translated into concrete actions or all will be a mare façade – the answer lies only in the womb of time. 


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