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Evolving Pakistan-India thaw or another mirage?

Another Pakistan-India thaw in the offing?

Ceasefire violations across the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary(WB) became a new norm during Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s government. India reneged on a 2003 cease fire agreement, resulting in loss of property and innocent lives of Kashmiris. During last year alone, India committed 1,881 ceasefire violations, the highest number since the ceasefire arrangement broke down. During five months of current year 1,050 such violations have been committed by India. Notwithstanding, Pakistani leadership kept striving for bilateral talks. Hostility between the two is a significant impediment to the socioeconomic development in both countries. Now one wonder whether India's offer to revert back to 2003 ceasefire agreement is an Evolving Pakistan-India thaw or another mirage? During the current year things began to take a turn for the better. Pakistan invited Indian Defence attaché to attend Pakistan day celebrations; and he attended. Pakistan also hosted India with other Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) members to discuss regional terrorism. In September, Pakistan and India will also participate in SCO joint counterterrorism exercises in Russia. In the meanwhile, Pakistan also hosted a Track II dialogue with India. Last month India's home ministry had ordered its occupation forces in the IoK to stop operations during the fasting month of Ramazan. And a round of bilateral talks pertaining to maritime matters has just concluded. For its part, Pakistan has consistently advocated resumption of structured dialogue with India. And while it was preoccupied with fighting terrorism, it made strategic sense for Pakistan to seek at least a calm eastern frontier. A convergence in India’s strategic thinking towards Pakistan’s point of view could open the door to addressing, if not fully resolving, the major issues. India had also embarked upon a strategy to destabilise Pakistan domestically, and isolate internationally. Both did not work. On the contrary, a significant convergence has emerged between Pakistan and major regional powers, like Russia, China and Iran, on regional matters while India and the US are seen as spoilers. Despite Donald Trump’s anti-Pakistan rhetoric, an open-ended US confrontation with Pakistan and its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, widely anticipated by India, have not happened. The US continues to rely on Pakistan’s cooperation with regard to Afghanistan end game. India triggered Doklam stand-off with China has also forced India to be realistic in its regional ambitions. India has once again acknowledged the significance of 2003 ceasefire arrangement and as there is no better alternative in place, India should steadfastly implement it.

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Hamid Ansari, Jinnah’s Portrait and turmoil in AMU

Recently (May 2018) Hamid Ansari, the ex-Vice President of India, was invited to Aligarh Muslim University to honor him with life membership of AMU Students Union (AMUSU). He had due security with him, still the Hindu Yuva Vahini-ABVP activists could reach near his place of stay. The pretext of the armed protesters was that Jinnah’s portrait has been put up to please Ansari and that they will not allow Jinnah’s portrait in AMU. The usual violence followed few arrests of Vahini volunteers, most of them let off. This has been followed by series of statements from Yogi Adityanath, who incidentally is also the founder of this Hindutva group, saying that portrait will not be allowed, Subramaniam Swami questioned as to who will teach a lesson to AMU! The students of AMU are on the protest against the violence unleashed by Vahini and ABVP. With this AMU episode Hindu nationalist politics is killing many birds with a single stone. First, to target Hamid Ansari, whom they can’t approve of as his credential is thoroughly secular. Second is to create yet another divisive issue in the form of portrait of Jinnah, to add on to other emotive issues manufactured so far. And thirdly to intimidate the AMU campus in line with what has been done in JNU, Hyderabad universities to name the few. One can say the Ghost of Jinnah, who can be called as ‘Secular soul in Communal body’ will keep visiting us, and RSS combine through its efforts will keep propping up divisive issues one after the other!

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Is Congress a Muslim Party, is it against interests of Hindus?

Ram Puniyani: Currently there is propaganda from BJP combine that Congress is anti Hindu party. On every conceivable occasion it states that Congress is insulting Hinduism. In the wake of the verdict of Mecca Masjid blast cases; as the accused got released; BJP spokespersons went hammer and tongs saying that Rahul Gandhi-Congress have defamed Hindu religion, they should apologize for that. In the ongoing campaign for Karnataka elections (2018) BJP has taken out a Yatra against so called ‘anti Hindu policies’ of Congress. The propaganda has gone to such an extent that even Sonia Gandhi, the ex-Congress President had to say that Congress is perceived as a party for Muslims! Walking the secular talk is becoming more difficult by the day. Gandhi was killed for this and his disciple Nehru is being the subject of vilification and calumny for the same. The Muslim communalists rejoiced formation of Pakistan, where development and amity is missing. With Congress-Gandhi Nehru we could make a small journey towards fraternity and progress. The criticism of Congress as being Muslim party, as being against Hindus, reflects more about the sectarian agenda of those propagating it rather that the nature of Congress, which despite all the flaws has been trying to protect secular values, despite massive limitations!

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A view from India: Sectarianism suppressing democratic right of Expression

Cattle triggers violence in India

Freedom of expression has been the core value which accompanied the struggle for India’s Independence. The British did attempt to stifle the voices of dissent but the freedom fighters did see this as a crucial mechanism of rooting democratic ethos in the society. At heavy cost the major leaders had to face the wrath of British colonialist powers for upholding the foundation of a democratic society through freedom of expression. The same values got enshrined in our Constitution, with various articles and clauses upholding it. What we are witnessing today is a stifling of dissent from the ruling party, the ruling ideology of sectarian nationalism. The suppression of dissent and freedom of giving expression is not just through control of media and stifling of writers. Ruling party; through control of a section of media; is using heavy hand to control the free thinkers. One major and frightening phenomenon accompanying this attempt to muzzle the dissenting opinions has been to eliminate the thinker’s writers physically.Diverse opinions, debated in an open spirit are the best guarantee for democratic society. The sectarian ideologies are opposed to democratic ethos and so they are pushing the intolerance worse possible levels. There is a need to protect the democratic freedom by combating communalism.

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At last, Pakistan begins to own IOK!

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been ignoring saner voices within Pakistan to be cautious while dealing with Hindutva inspired and RSS powered Modi, however, he continued to ignore Modi’s brinkmanship and kept giving him benefit of doubt. Modi’s August 15 speech has compelled Nawaz to rethink his approach towards India, as Modi has shamelessly bared its teeth. While briefing the ambassadors of P-5 and the EU, on August 27, Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz expressed his regrets over the Indian decision saying Pakistan has always demonstrated willingness to hold talks with the Indian side but it has received the same response from the other side. The Adviser said the international community, has an important role to uphold the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law. The P-5 and EU Ambassadors appreciated Pakistan’s readiness for dialogue. Hopefully, concerted multidimensional efforts by the government of Pakistan would soon begin to yield results.

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