India and Pakistan are both guilty of diverting the money desperately required for alleviating the shameful poverty in their countries to strengthen their armed forces and justifying it citing the “Kashmir issue” (“Time for honest introspection,” Sept. 23), which is nothing but absurd rhetoric in the name of patriotism. It is possible to resolve any issue, including Kashmir, provided we approach it with an open mind, without getting bogged down by rhetoric such as Kashmir is irrevocably an integral part of India and, therefore, no negotiation is possible.
New Delhi would do well to invite all stakeholders, including militants and Islamabad, regardless of their past deeds and misdeeds, for an open and free discussion with an honest intention of arriving at a solution in tune with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Kashmir.
India is still saddled with the Kashmir dispute only because of its patience and respect for the neighbour which was once part of India. As for the dispute with China, the eastern neighbour wants to bully all the countries in Asia. Which government is in power is irrelevant. We were, are and will be a democracy, unlike many of our neighbours, and know how to protect our territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The NDA government took some laudable steps to improve ties with Pakistan but it never got the credit for it. It was during the NDA regime that the government bore the expenses for the treatment of baby Noor Fatima.
The government financed the travel, accommodation and medical treatment of 20 more Pakistani children. Similarly, Pakistani students were taken on tours to many Indian institutes and companies. The resumption of India-Pakistan cricketing ties in 2003 was another initiative. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a great humanitarian and India misses him.
There can be no lasting solution to the Kashmir issue until both India and Pakistan reach an understanding that is based on goodwill. Past events show that whenever the two countries have moved a step forward, there has been a crisis of expectations that divided them again.
I recall an incident that happened in the Sialkot sector during the 1965 India-Pakistan war. I heard a cry of pain emanating from a sugarcane field. I found a Pakistani Major dying in pain from a wound that ran deep. I offered him water and asked him: “Why are we fighting?” His dying words were: “Till such time as our understanding of religion is blind, and our education and culture do not recognise love and brotherhood, we will continue fighting. Our peace is only a proclamation, not a fact.” I offered him a salute as a parting tribute.
Bir Singh Sangwan,
Keywords: Kashmir issue