Negotiations involving Kashmiris the only way out
Be it Vietnam or Venezuela, it is all but impossible to look away from any armed conflict in a globalised world in its current form. Any sane individual has to be worried sick at the prospect of a war anywhere in the global village. The worrying intensifies a thousand fold if such a threat looms somewhere nearby.
Yes, this is about the horrifying present situation in Kashmir, a place described as heaven on earth. Control of Kashmir has long been split between India and Pakistan, and the border between the two is tense even at the best of times, let alone following recent events.
At the centre of the world’s attention for all the wrong reasons, happenings in Kashmir cannot be taken lately even if it is more than 2,000km away from Bangladesh. Any full-scale war between India and Pakistan, which were once a single entity before partition in 1947, will affect the entire South Asian Region. People can be forgiven for being extremely nervous, as both countries possess nuclear arsenals.
Following a terrorist attack on a convoy of troops in Indian-administered Kashmir on February 14, tensions between India and Pakistan began to mount. India blamed Pakistan for the attack, while the latter denied the allegation vehemently.
The real action started on Tuesday morning, when Indian fighter jets bombed an alleged militant camp inside Pakistan, violating the line of control. Indian claims that significant had been inflicted were dismissed by the Pakistani authorities.
The already escalating tensions rose further on Wednesday, when Pakistan, as it warned earlier, retaliated by striking inside India-administered Kashmir. Pakistan claimed that it had shot down two Indian fighter jets that violated its airspace, while India talked about shooting down a Pakistani fighter jet. An Indian pilot is now in the custody of Pakistan.
Amidst shelling into the territory controlled by each other, an Indian MI17 helicopter crashed in Indian-occupied Kashmir, killing several personnel.
No one really knows what will happen next. The world is urging both the nuclear states to exercise restraint, and it remains to be seen if New Delhi and Islamabad will listen to the appeals.
It goes without saying that Bangladesh, like the rest of the world, wants the tensions to be deescalated as soon as possible, in the greater interest of the region. Hopefully, good sense will prevail among the leaderships of India and Pakistan, and they will realize the gravity of the situation.
One does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand that the solution to the protracted crisis is at a negotiating table with the involvement of the Kashmiri people, who have been suffering for 72 years. India and Pakistan have already fought two wars over Kashmir, and appear ready to fight more. But the Kashmiris, who are the principal stakeholders, have never been given the opportunity to decide their fate, which is uncanny as well as unrealistic.
Both India and Pakistan are prospering and wish to go even further. However, have these two nations ever thought how far they could go if the resources employed in Kashmir were used for development purposes?
If history is any guide, it will tell everyone that wars do not bring about any good for anybody. A war is always a failure, no matter who wins.
As far as the escalating situation in Kashmir is concerned, every sane person will hope that the leaderships of the world's second and seventh largest countries will say "Enough is enough. All we want now is nothing but peace. If we could peacefully coexist for thousands of years before the British came, we can do it now."
The entire South Asian region cannot hope for stability as well as prosperity if the Kashmir crisis is not addressed, and it is high time that India and Pakistan realize this.
Both New Delhi and Islamabad will have to understand that some principles and values must transcend politics and populist rhetoric, and it's none other than the people of Kashmir who have to be allowed to decide the destiny of heaven on earth.