Whenever tension brews up between India and Pakistan, all I recall is her face. Face of a neighbour, whose love story leaves my eyes moist and heart pierced with pain. Yes, she had committed the folly of falling in love with a Pakistani man, a trader by profession, who visited New Delhi for a month-long vacation during the summer of 2005. During that period of peace, she was a fresh graduate, who landed up a plump job in a corporate house in the national capital.
Their meeting was an accident. As far as I can recall, it was in some posh restaurant at Connaught Place where they bumped into each other for the first time. Again I am not sure, but I guess it was a love at first sight encounter. They met, talked, bartered phone numbers and were quick enough to exchange love notes too.
In her diary, dated May 10, 2005, she boldly wrote: "I love my Pakistani Man and want to marry him." She showed me her diary years later. Her wish did not fulfill. But her passion for the man still remains intact. She is still waiting for her love to cross the border and take her with him.
Unfortunately, her desire to marry the man of her dreams seems impossible. As his family opposed the alliance, he decided to sever all ties with her. She accepted her fate. But, she refused to marry anyone else. Many asked her, "Why don't you get married?" Her answer is always, "Border can not create barriers in heart."
And, it is the same border shared between India and Pakistan which has once again brought two countries on the brink of a war like situation. Emotions are high on both the sides, after India strongly protested against brutal killing of two jawans at the Line of Control (LoC). Border skirmishes and military stand-offs are not new between the two neighbouring countries. Those who reside near the LoC have witnessed the fragile peace link which both countries are trying to hold desperately.
History says that after the tragic partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, which was followed by unimaginable death and devastation, the two south-Asian countries have shared a love-hate relationship. It does not need political acumen to tell that India and Pakistan share a volatile relationship. But can two neighbours, which share a lot of commonalities, live under the shadow of war? It is a difficult proposition and need thorough understanding of ground realities.
Reality is brutal. India and Pakistan cannot afford war, especially when both have declared their nuclear capabilities in an overtly fashion. The ongoing nuclear-arm race between India and Pakistan is a nightmarish situation. Although both the nations officially say they won't be the first to use nuclear weapons but the very possession of nuke signals mass destruction of entire south-Asian region. Moreover, international community has expressed its fear that Pakistan's nukes could fall into the wrong hands (read terrorist groups).
Both countries understand it well. The "sane" voices in both sides are still preaching peace. And war mongers (as they suffer from the incurable disease) are voting for war. The two countries have officially fought three wars against each other since their breakup in 1947 and have had numerous skirmishes and close calls since then. The neighbours have a festering territorial dispute in Kashmir. And, it is well-known that Pakistani political parties use the issue of Kashmir to fight elections.
The 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks created enough rift and tension between two nations in the recent past. Indian authorities have given enough evidence to show that it was Pakistani trained terrorists under the guidance of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and apt support from Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the intelligence agency of Pakistan, which carried out the worst terror attacks in Indian soil. However, Pakistan has been in a denial mood. It is yet to bring the perpetrators to book.
2013 does not augur well for both the nations. Once again kinship between India and Pakistan is witnessing a dark phase. The inhuman act of Pakistani soldiers to kill, mutilate and butcher the heads of Indian Jawans is being seen as a "highly provocative" act by Indian establishment.
Reports suggest that while governments on both sides of the border are trying their best to restore "peace and normalcy", the situation is totally different in LoC.
The ongoing tension between India and Pakistan showed no sign of extinguishing soon as cross-LoC firing was reported at least eight border posts on Friday, Jan 11. Should the ongoing border dispute be seen in isolation and easily neglected? Or, India should strongly react by counter military attacks?
An affirmative reply to both the questions would be wrong. Perhaps, it is high time both the countries throw open all its negotiating channels to talk and iron out all the problematic areas.
To talk and have a dialogue might be seen as a romantic call. Experts preach "romance" has got no place between two warring countries. Analysts allege that "romantics" have always diverted the real issue. Relation between two countries are conducted through shrewd diplomacy. Who is questioning the theory? But between India and Pakistan everything has failed---war, border skirmishes and diplomacy.
We have witnessed everything. Time to add some romance. Time for some peace. Time to resolve our issues in a gentle way.
And, yes, my neighbour plans to visit Pakistan soon. She hopes that she would be able to find her beloved in Karachi. I wish her "All the Best". And, I wish all Indians and Pakistani a peaceful co-existence.