India rules out war with Pakistan, stresses on dialogue to turn course of history

sushma swaraj

No war, let’s talk to end terror and build peaceful relations to advance stability and prosperity in the region. This is India’s message to Pakistan days after resuming full-spectrum dialogue with its difficult neighbour as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj unveiled their reasoning behind their latest peace initiative.  

Adopting a statesman-like tone, Mr Modi spoke in a messianic tone about his much-discussed gamble in restarting dialogue with Pakistan and placed it in the larger context of regional stability and prosperity.  

“India is engaging Pakistan to try and turn the course of history, bring an end to terrorism, build peaceful relations, advance cooperation and promote stability and prosperity in our region,” Mr Modi said. He also stressed that the talks aimed to bring an end to terrorism, but made it clear that Pakistan would be judged by its commitment on terrorism.

Mr Modi should know better as it was his famous 160-second conversation with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Paris on November 30 that set in motion a sequence of significant meetings that led to the resumption of the dialogue process during Ms Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad on December 8 .

Speaking in Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament), Mrs Swaraj provided an insight into the government’s high-risk initiative. “We said we can talk so that terrorism comes to an end. So talks (between NSAs) took place in Bangkok where we discussed about terrorism. But one meeting will not bring a solution to all the problems. So we will continue the dialogue.”

India and Pakistan have decided to discuss terrorism, Ms Swaraj said, in the backdrop of the recent decision to launch the newly-christened ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue” with Pakistan under which various subjects, including terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir, will be discussed. India and Pakistan had earlier insisted on discussing only terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir respectively due to which the talks between the two sides were stalled.

During Ms Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad from December 8-9 where she met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Foreign Affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz, “the two sides decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism. The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial,” Ms Swaraj said. 

Turning the course of history?

Underscoring his neighbourhood first mantra, Mr Modi spoke about challenges in a difficult neighbourhood. “Our neighbourhood is most critical for our future and for our place in the world… But ours is a difficult neighbourhood with the full spectrum of security challenges. We see terrorism and ceasefire violations, reckless nuclear build-up and threats, border transgressions and continuing military modernisation and expansion. The shadow of West Asian instability is becoming longer.”

In the past, the leaders of India and Pakistan have traded in hyperboles and spoke like prophets inspired in terms of turning a new leaf and beginning a new chapter in their troubled relationship. But such inspired talk has been belied by grim realities of power games and trust deficit that continue to bedevil the accident-prone India-Pakistan relations. One only hopes that this time round, with Pakistan’s military establishment on board, the troubled history of India-Pakistan relations is allowed to change its course to usher in a better future for nearly 1.4 billion people of the two countries.

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