Ramzan diplomacy

In my last column, I talked about the absurdity and inherent dangers of the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan in recent months

In my last column, I talked about the absurdity and inherent dangers of the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan in recent months. From threats of cross-border strikes from an Indian minister to Pakistan’s Defence Minister declaring our arms are not meant for decoration, from Indian Prime Minister Modi’s bombastic anti-Pakistan statements in Bangladesh to our military establishment’s accusations about Indian involvement in terrorism in Pakistan, the war of words between Indian and Pakistani leaders had certainly reached a crescendo.


Phone a friend: Indian Prime Minister Modi called his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif earlier this week to greet him on the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan. This one phone call finally brought down the soaring temperatures to a thaw. Representation pic/PTI

Such level of hysteria is not unknown between the two neighbours but this time around, there was a sense of betrayal in this warmongering hysteria. The reason being that there was hope that peace would finally prevail in the region after Mian Nawaz Sharif, who is openly committed to the idea of peace with India, came to power followed by the formation of a strong BJP government in India. Mr Sharif’s Muslim League and the BJP have right wing bases in their respective countries and are not hounded like the Indian Congress or the Pakistan People’s Party when they try to make peace overtures. It was in this context that the recent verbal spat between the two South Asian neighbours raised many an eyebrow. With no end in sight to such jingoism, peaceniks -- and even those of my fellow countrymen who are not considered ‘pro-India’ -- were all equally alarmed.

In the past, we have seen how cricket diplomacy has been used on numerous occasions by these two countries to bring a semblance of normalcy back to their otherwise hostile relations. This time, Ramzan diplomacy was used by Mr Modi and Mr Sharif to reach out to each other and call for peace and harmony in the region. Indian Prime Minister Modi called his Pakistani counterpart Mian Nawaz Sharif earlier this week to greet him on the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan. This one phone call finally brought down the soaring temperatures to a thaw. Mr Modi also announced to “release detained Pakistani fishermen on this pious occasion”. In its editorial (‘Modi’s phone call’), Dawn newspaper said: “We hope there will be no more inflammatory statements and jingoism. Instead, the respective leaderships in New Delhi and Islamabad must put their heads together and formulate a plan that can address each other’s concerns and pave the way for long-term peace in the subcontinent.”

Pakistan is fighting an internal battle so ugly and so dangerous that its survival depends on winning it. Peaceful relations with India would help it in many ways, apart from bringing economic growth and regional stability. India, too, cannot be held hostage to an arms race when its people expect far more from it at the economic front. Restraining the respective bad mouths should be a good omen for the overall political environment. It is hoped that better sense prevails, continues and the two countries come back to the negotiating table as soon as possible.

The writer is a Pakistani journalist. Reach her at mehmal.s@gmail.com

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