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First step for Pakistan to bounce back is to build cordial relations with India

By NS Venkataraman* 

Facing severe economic crisis and near bankruptcy conditions and high inflation, citizens of Pakistan must be undergoing stressful time now. Apart from such severe economic crisis brought about due to combination of reasons and obviously several wrong decisions of the past , the frequent terrorist attacks in Pakistan and Islamic extremism taking deep root in the country has created an unenviable situation.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan and chief of army staff have themselves expressed their distress about such financial mess facing the country and obviously feel humiliated , as they have to plead for loan from other countries and also appeal for deferment of repayment schedule. Above all, the officials of International Monetary Fund are adding insult to injury by imposing conditions that should be adopted by Pakistan to avail financial support from IMF, even as those from IMF know that some of the conditions that they impose would add hardship to people.
All said and done ,the question uppermost in the mind of Pakistan citizens and well wishers of Pakistan around the world is where would Pakistan go from here. The anxious question asked is whether Pakistan would be able to come out of such turmoil at any time soon.
A careful analysis of the strength and potentials of Pakistan would only highlight the fact that Pakistan can come out of the present desperate situation, if the leadership in the government, chief of army staff and enlightened people of Pakistan can reformulate the priorities and chalk out a time bound action plan in a pragmatic way.
Certainly, other countries would respond to Pakistan’s need in variety of ways, if Pakistan government and people would convey the impression in a convincing way about such pragmatic policy and no nonsense approach and with hatred and enmity for none.
Pakistan has reasonably strong agricultural base and mineral resources, that can stand Pakistan in good stead in future , if only Pakistan government develop them adequately well.

Need for friendly relations with India

The first proactive approach for Pakistan should be to restore peaceful, friendly relation with India, which is possible. Indian Prime Minister Modi is appears focused on developing India industrially and economically and a war with Pakistan should be his last option. India and Pakistan are spending excessive resources in building their military warfare due to mutual suspicion. This helps neither India nor Pakistan.
Obviously, some people in Pakistan are obsessed with the Kashmir issue and generation of citizens have grown in Pakistan thinking that Kashmir should be part of Pakistan at any cost. This is totally a counter productive approach, failing to view the issue with proper and dispassionate perspective, keeping the thought process in both the countries in view.
Whatever that have happened in the past, a certain portion of Kashmir is now with Pakistan and rest is under the control of India. Let it remain in the same way and let both the countries decide accordingly.
With a leader like Mr. Modi in charge in India, this appears possible. Pakistan government has to explain to the people about the inevitable need to solve Kashmir issue peacefully in one way or the other. With cooperation with India, Pakistan can profitably gain by fostering trade relationship with India in a variety of ways that will benefit both the countries.

Need to emulate other Islamic countries

Pakistan should learn from other Islamic countries like UAE, Qatar, Egypt and maintain healthy respect for other religions like Hinduism and Christianity, even as Pakistan remains as a deeply devoted Islamic nation.
A strong public opinion has to be built in Pakistan against Islamic extremism in Pakistan by soliciting support from well intentioned and noble Islamic scholars who understand the spirit of Islam which is amity and equity and not animosity and violence.
Pakistan is a democratic country and deeply religious one.There are liberal Pakistan based journalists , who are known to have courage of conviction and progressive views based on ground realities.
The media can play a very big role in restoring the glory of Pakistan by moulding public opinion and thought process in a positive manner and even reforming the politicians by constructive criticism and providing corrective recommendations.

People to people relationship of India and Pakistan

The first step towards enabling Pakistan to bounce back is to build cordial relationship with India by amicably settling the Kashmir issue, strongly putting down the terrorist elements from creating problems in Kashmir that is now under India’s control.
The recent visit of Mr. Javed Akhtar, a well known lyricist and poet from India to Pakistan and his interaction with the Pakistani citizens give great hope about the future relationship with both the countries. One of the observations during interaction was made by a Pakistan citizen that almost amounted to saying that Pakistanis love Indians and bear no ill will. The Indian lyricist responded that Indians cannot be blamed for suspicions about Pakistan since 26 / 11 attack in Mumbai was carried out by terrorists from Pakistan killing innocent people . For this response, there was no protest in Pakistan.
Mr. C. Rajagopalachari, one of the greatest thinkers of India said several decades back that the best way of building good relationship with India and Pakistan is to encourage and facilitate citizens from both these countries to visit each other and build cordial relationship between the people. Present is the right time for this approach.
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*Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai

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