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OpinionsIndia and Pakistan have taken right decision in latest talks on nuclear...

India and Pakistan have taken right decision in latest talks on nuclear facilities


Both the countries need to pursue dialogue to deal with other pressing issues

By Tirthankar Mitra

and Pakistan are nuclear-weapon countries engaged in a troubled relationship That is a cause of concern for the populace and leadership of both the countries. The moot point is whether the duo can live side by side in some safety and not the technological achievement both have reached to arm themselves thus. Of late, the 33rd consecutive exchange of the list of nuclear installations is a step in the right direction. It would be too early to say that this is an all clear sign to the citizens of both the countries .

But together with the nuclear installations' locations, the exchange of prisoners and fishermen is a pointer to a thaw. It is a testament to the endurance of the diplomatic protocol established more than three decades ago. Indo-Pak relations has had many highs and lows.

The old timers will recall a teary eyed Pakistani President Ayub Khan lending his shoulder to the cortege of Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri who passed away after inking the treaty in Tashkent ending the hostilities 1965 war between the two countries. The Lahore bus journey with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on board was another attempt to usher in peace.

But the initiative of Ayub Khan floundered when his successor launched Operation Searchlight to stifle the people's verdict in the then East Pakistan only to make way for the creation of Bangladesh with Indian military cooperation. stopped the endeavour of peace process of the Lahore bus trip in its tracks.

The recent exchange marks a shared realisation of the catastrophic consequences that a nuclear conflict may unleash. It is rooted in the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities which was arrived at in 1988.

Both countries prefer maintaining a studied silence in respect of the details of the nuclear facilities on their soil. What is commendable about the exchange is the degree of transparency achieved over a critical area.

Of course, differences on broader geopolitical challenges remain. But it is indeed a go ahead signal fostering dialogue on nuclear related concerns.

The exchange of civilian prisoners and fishermen twice a year adds a human dimension to the matter. Grievances will arise and will be addressed but the human factor in the exchange of citizens of both the countries lends the issue a soft touch.

Individuals were caught in the cross current and their rescue will add to the reservoirs of goodwill for each other to a considerable extent. It is beyond the grand narrative of the statecraft.

It highlights the concern of both the countries who seek to sink their differences. Indeed it reflects a concern for humanitarian matters, the absence of formal dialogue between the two countries post 2008 Mumbai attack notwithstanding.

The high level talks may have come to a halt for now. But back-channel contacts and intelligence driven interactions have done a commendable job. Indeed a pivotal role has been essayed. One has to make haste slowly to carry it forward now. The exchange of lists is a glimmer of hope. It comes in the wake of terrorist attacks and a complex historical backdrop. India and Pakistan are navigating a complex route. It requires delicate diplomatic handling. Can peace prevail over confrontation? The answer lies in picking up a tortuous path in a tumultuous relationship. A small but crucial step has been taken. Diplomatic threads must endure to make the endeavour for peace a lasting initiative.

Both countries must be aware that hostilities are not quite affordable. Let both the nations strive to find out ways for living as good neighbours without constant worries. (IPA Service)



The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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