READ THE SIGNALS

All over India a feeling is prevalent that Kashmir is an integral part of India. The people see Pakistan as an intruder. Since the Partition, Kashmir has remained a hot spot. In that respect it is not alone. There are numerous places where two different countries have continued to tangle for years. For example, the United Kingdom and Argentina went to war over the Falkland archipelago. Both Russia and Ukraine are fighting over Crimea. The rock of Gibraltar has remained a bone of contention between Spain and the UK. Japan and Russia are contesting an island in the Pacific. There are others. Therefore, the Kashmir problem may be seen as a parting gift of the British to India and Pakistan. Given the geopolitical drama playing out before them, now it is up to these two countries to solve this problem. International conflicts take centuries to solve if they are solved at all! Kashmir is no exception. After the Modi Government abolished its special status within the Union, a lot of discussion has taken place in and outside of India. The President of the Frederick Muslim Association, in the Washington Metropolitan area, has lambasted the Modi Government for its actions in Kashmir. One can safely say that he was expressing the talking points of the Pakistani military establishment. The BJP Government in India and its supporters in our area seem to be oblivious to the feelings of their Muslim brethren. Prime Minister Modi's support for Donald Trump and Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric has alienated many of them.

Regardless what the supporters of Pakistan's military think, several positive things have happened between India and Pakistan. By opening the road to the Kartarpur Temple, the Imran Khan Government has earned tremendous goodwill from the Sikh community worldwide. Goodwill has a way of spreading! Now, an advocacy group also has suggested that Pakistan allow the Khokarpar - Munabao border to open so that Pakistani pilgrims can visit Dargha Ajmer, the shrine of Sufi saint Moniuddin Chisti. In the same way, a visit to the Hinglaj Temple in Baluchistan should be facilitated for the Hindus.

It must be noted that because of the social media a lot of information and ideas are spreading instantly in every which way possible. That is why controlling information that worked well in the past is no longer sustainable. Someone somewhere finds the fact and spills on the net. Panama Papers, Wiki Leaks and whistle blowing in Washington are examples. Because of all of the above a desire also is taking shape within Pakistan to be free to think, travel and associate. The youth there wants education and jobs. None of this is possible without reaching out to the world outside. Successive governments of Pakistan, military and civilian, may have reached out to China out of necessity but many people in Pakistan still have relatives in India. They see the level of freedom among citizens in India and they hunger for it. For the present generation of Pakistan the partition happened a long time ago. For them India is not an enemy. It is a place where Bollywood is located and they want to visit it and enjoy its song, dance and movies. History tells us that trade and cultural relationship make it easier for political antagonism to disappear between countries in conflict. It is no wonder that groups of Pakistani students in Europe and America on November 26 protested against the Pakistani Government for letting loose the mastermind of the Mumbai terror that killed 166 people and injured 300 more. There was a time when the Pakistani Government was actively promoting terrorism. It was training terrorists to kill and maim around the world. It was a breeding ground for al-Qaeda and and the Taliban. Members of those organizations were considered national heroes. Supposedly, that has changed. Pakistan's civilian government seems less interested in jihad than in development. Any small step it can take toward building peace would help. The world can only wait and watch and read the signals.



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