ONCE again hopes for progress on India-Pakistan ties have diminished and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s pledge to boost relations with India has run into difficulties. The recent killings of Indian soldiers along the Line of Control in Kashmir and the consequent anti-Pakistan protest in New Delhi have cast a shadow over possible talks between the two countries on the sidelines of the General Assembly session next month. In fact, the ‘peace process’ is not really there; India cannot put aside the 2008 Mumbai attacks and Pakistan has failed to rein in the militants. The latter are well-armed and well-funded and some of them have brought the two nuclear-armed neighbours to the verge of war twice since 9/11. Here lies the test for the two sides: will Islamabad and New Delhi hand the militants a diplomatic win by shying away from peace? On this point the two sides must be clear.
Meanwhile, the charged New Delhi crowd consis-ting largely of supporters of the Congress party that tried to storm the Pakistan High Commission on Wednesday did no service to the cause of India-Pakistan reconciliation. It is impossible not to come to the conclusion that the party bigwigs encouraged them. Maturity and restraint are needed at this stage and India’s defence minister would have done well to wait for a thorough inquiry into the incident before directly accusing “a specialist force in the Pakistan Army” of being involved in the killings. This has increased tensions and negated other efforts to lower temperatures such as those of the two countries’ directors of military operations who were in hotline contact after the incident. The 2003 ceasefire agreement has largely held but can be further reinforced and made durable given that there has been an increase in LoC tensions since January. And although the level of infiltration into India-held Kashmir has gone down considerably, Pakistan must make it a priority to cripple all attempts made by militants to sabotage peace efforts between the two countries.