Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has termed economic engagement with the US and India as a solution to end Pakistan’s international isolation and disengagement. He stressed the need for people to people contacts for improving strained relationships. Undoubtedly, the approach is a positive one. It is high time that both the rival states should get engaged in the peace process and all contentious issues should be resolved through a meaningful dialogue process. Peace is the only option and way forward. Only a more positive approach to the relationship can give good results for both the neighbouring countries as well as for regional peace. There is no way out as both Pakistan and India are nuclear states and they cannot afford any warfare that would result in complete destruction. The leadership of both countries should resolve all bilateral issues in a civilised manner, paying heed to each other’s opinions to address grievances and seek solutions. There are more urgent needs of the masses in both states. Among them, terrorism and poverty are the biggest challenges for Pakistan and India. They need to collaborate to tackle these challenges. Both the countries need to reaffirm their resolve that they will not resort to the use of force or threat of the use of force under any circumstances. They need to focus on the causes of tension and take all possible measures to avert further escalation.
Serious efforts are needed by both sides to re-engage in the dialogue process. There must be an initial point to start with. Instead of getting bogged down over big disputes, both states need to first sort out smaller issues that can be resolved by applying only a little rationality. Issues like the withdrawal of forces from Siachen, Sir Creek, fishermen’s arrests and border skirmishes may lend themselves to relatively easier resolution. These are issues that can be resolved by Islamabad and New Delhi by sitting at the negotiating table even without the intervention of the UN. The only thing that the two countries need to acquire is mutual trust. Both countries need to take confidence-building measures for the establishment of long-lasting peace in the region. They have to talk to each other if they wish to co-exist as peaceful neighbours. Unless both countries resolve their outstanding issues, they will remain entangled in problems and cannot tackle other challenges. The fact that Pakistan and India are neighbouring states cannot be wished away. Wars never solve any problems but create more. No one can afford a war in today’s world. What they need to do is to develop trade and commerce and promote people-to-people contacts. Both the countries should take the opportunity to change in government in Pakistan and focus on the resolution of conflicting issues.