Of hawks and doves

One: ‘Spy pigeon’ detained in India after crossing border from Pakistan
Two: Modi told China, Pakistan economic corridor unacceptable – Sushma
Three: Centre plans ‘carnival’ to mark 50 years of India-Pakistan War of 1965

The first news item is quite hilarious given the absurdity of the claim in this tech-savvy 21st century world. Social media had a field day with this news report as memes were made, Bollywood songs shared, witty blogs written, etc. On the one hand, this news item is indeed funny but on the other, it also shows how much mistrust there is between the two South Asian neighbours. Decades of enmity and hawkish policies have led to this — that even a pigeon that flew over from across the border was seen as a potential threat.

Relations between India and Pakistan have rarely been peaceful and after the Mumbai attacks in 2008, things inevitably got worse. The second news item points to further escalations between the two countries. As an editorial (‘India’s objections to CPEC’) in Dawn newspaper related to this news item noted: “Apart from the fact that CPEC is a bilateral matter, the project, if implemented in a transparent manner and keeping the aspirations of all stakeholders in mind, has the potential to transform the economics of the region for the better…Such mistrust between the two [India and Pakistan] has impeded progress in so many areas, besides doing nothing to tap the potential of the region’s billion-plus inhabitants.”

The third news item is disconcerting to say the least. Dawn editorial on this War ‘carnival’ said: “Mr Modi’s government may have its own agenda in making these plans, but it is difficult not to find such a display of gratuitous chest-thumping abhorrent.” Peaceniks on both sides of the border are quite alarmed at these new developments, and rightly so. Being hawkish is one thing but celebrating victory in a war that led to death and destruction is akin to taking hostility to another level.

One can obviously not absolve Pakistan and its establishment’s flawed policies vis-à-vis India either, but the Modi government has certainly not helped Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s efforts to normalise Indo-Pak relations. Proxy wars, cross-border attacks, hostile policies, weaponisation, etc., have already cost this region quite a lot. It is time to put an end to such madness and invest in peace so that our future generations do not have to suffer at the hands of such policies.

On another note, Pakistan successfully held an international cricket series at home after six years. The Zimbabwe cricket team played five matches in Pakistan; two T20s and three ODIs. Gaddafi Stadium was packed on all five days despite the fact that the crowds had to face a lot of discomfort due to strict security measures around the city and especially around the stadium. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Punjab government, Punjab Police and other law enforcement agencies must be commended for a job well done. Pakistani cricket fans are indebted to the Zimbabweans, which was quite evident by the way the crowds cheered for their cricket team. Here’s hoping that other cricket teams visit Pakistan as well.

(Originally published in Mid-Day)


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