Taking nano steps to explore CBMs with Pakistan

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Taking nano steps to explore CBMs with Pakistan

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For representational purposes (Photo AP) A short message of greetings Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent to his counterpart Imran Khan to mark Pakistan Day added to the basket of small positive gestures from both sides to reduce friction ever since their militaries announced ceasefire along the Line of Control. That not a shot has been fired across the LoC since the February 25 joint statement, making it the most peaceful four weeks there for over five years, indicates mutual resolve to make the border tranquil. But the real test will come when the snow melts and the terrain becomes conducive for pushing in terrorists across the LoC into JK. As of now, terror launch pads on the Pakistani side are very much intact, according to Army Chief Gen M M Naravane. If and only if the terror infra is dismantled will Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s recent dovish statement on both sides burying the past and moving forward hold any value. As Modi said in his letter, “an environment of trust, devoid of terror and hostility, is imperative … for cordial relations with the people of Pakistan.” For much of Imran’s tenure at the helm, both heads of state have not been on talking terms, one reason being his incendiary rhetoric vilifying Modi and his party. He no longer speaks that language. From the BJP’s side, demonising Pakistan to rustle up a nationalism cocktail in the run up to the current state polls is significantly missing. Going forward, restoring bilateral diplomacy to the level of the high commissioner—downgraded in the wake of India ending Kashmir’s special status in August last—would be an important confidence-building measure. There has been ample speculation on why Pakistan softened its approach, with reports suggesting the UAE was the facilitator. Also, since the global anti-terror watchdog Financial Action Task Force is breathing down its neck, the pressure on Islamabad to clean up its act to get foreign aid is very real. Another reason is its prepping for power play in Afghanistan if an interim government is formed, as suggested by the US. As for India, it is understandably wary. But restoring full normalcy in JK and announcing elections could open the window of opportunity wider.

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The Struggle Continues

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