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Indo-Pak ties finally out of cold storage

An active judicial system or deepening thaw in Indo-Pak relations, prospects for 2004 are definitely getting a friendlier hue.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2004 20:52 IST

(Pragya Joshi)

In the cynical world of Indo-Pak ties, it's as if Harry Potter has descended from Hogwarts and waved his magic wand. The two countries that were on the brink of an apocalypse of a nuclear war in early 2002 now seem to be on the threshold of a new beginning.

A year, which began on a particularly vexed note of expulsion of diplomatic staff and downsizing of both High Commissions has concluded on an encouraging and constructive tone by PM Vajpayee of open cross borders and common currency structured on EU's common monetary union.

With such a tumultuous history of Indo-Pak ties, a degree of scepticism is palpable at this newfound peace, but it also appears that rounds of bickering have given way to concessions, guarantees and conflict-resolution. Especially the latter half of the year was marked with all that is classically chaste, white and peace-like. The brutal state of brinksmanship and sniping has given way to hotlines, goodwill delegations, and release of detainees in jails, freeing of fishermen and restoration of air and rail links.

Another remarkable development was the underlining of that human element of cross-border relations. They were essentially pegged to Baby Noor Fatima who traveled with her parents to India on the newly restarted Delhi-Lahore bus service for a successful open-heart surgery in the Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital in Bangalore. She became the cynosure of Indians just as Bihar MP Laloo Yadav managed a much-vaunted 'an artist of a politician' title by President Musharraf for charming the Pakistani audience.

India's gestures have provided an apt context for the impending 12th SAARC summit scheduled for Jan 2004 in Islamabad. And its confidence building measures include full resumption of cricketing and other sporting links, launching of a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad in PoK, holding of Visa camps and application of ceasefire over the Pak armed forces deployed on the LoC on a symbolic Id day as well as extend it to the Actual Ground Position Line in Siachen where both nations have been involved in an arduous duel since 1984.

Added to it, this spirit of camaraderie has earned both nations that favourable pat on the back by the US, at the same time it leaves no room for complacency considering the US National Intelligence Council projection for 2015 has claimed a risk of war between India and Pakistan to remain fairly high over the next 15 years. Nonetheless outside of diplomatic semantics, time is the key arbiter of judgment and for as long as it lasts let us savour the bonhomie between these two contiguous nations.

India-Pakistan: Talking Peace

First Published: Dec 27, 2003 21:09 IST