Was there any patriotic fire in the cancellation of the foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan? Ostensibly yes, but intrinsically no. Has the NDA government got the nerve to say that it will not talk to China for the intrusion by its troops into Ladakh or its frequent claim on Arunachal Pradesh? Going by international reports, crossfire along the India-Pakistan border killed at least two persons on either side. Even then nothing should cause the cancellation of bilateral parleys.
The disclosure by Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit that there had never been any bar on meetings with the separatists puts the ball in India’s court. Even during the war with Pakistan, the door for negotiation was never closed. On August 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Why not get together with all the Saarc nations to plan out the fight against poverty?” It now seems to be either a pious platitude or a showbiz promise.
For the Left, particularly, the two Communist parties, now is the time to assert themselves and tell the people on both sides of the divide that after Partition, the undivided CPI, under general secretary PC Joshi, raised the slogan — Hindustan Pakistan/ Dost banenge, dost rahenge (India and Pakistan/ will become friends, will remain friends). The CPI — now the CPI(M) too — in chasing a crooked shadow (parliamentary obsession: Fear of losing Hindi/u votes) has kept this bold slogan in hibernation. This slogan is certain to displease defence analysts.
In Pakistan, many defence analysts as columnists, including ex-army big shots, often openly criticise Pakistan’s military policies. Recently, well-known Pakistani columnist Ayaz Amir, known for his acid tongue and straightforwardness, quoted the famous Urdu muse, Munir Niazi, in a different context: “Kis da dosh si kis da nahi si/ Aey galaan hun karan diyan nahi/ Veley lag gaey tauba valey/ Jo hoya ey hona ee si/ Te hona rokyan rukdi nahi/ Gal phir eivan mukdi nahi”.
The translation, done by Amir reads: “Who was to blame, who was not to blame, these arguments no longer matter. The time for repentance is past. What has happened was bound to happen”. These lines are appropriate for the situation now.
Dialogue and debate in a friendly way is an indirect expression of solidarity with the people on the other side of the border who are fighting a battle for strengthening democracy — and this is beneficial for us too. So the Left, mauled in the electoral arena, has an opportunity to speak up for what Joshi had once said.
Sankar Ray is a Kolkata-based writer
The views expressed by the author are personal