Monday, Sep 28, 2020 | Last Update : 08:55 PM IST

188th Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra1339232103001535571 Andhra Pradesh6756746050905708 Tamil Nadu5808085251549313 Karnataka5755664622418582 Uttar Pradesh3870853258885594 Delhi2711142366515235 West Bengal2474252169214781 Odisha209374173571850 Telangana1872111564311107 Bihar178882164537888 Kerala175385117917678 Assam169985139977655 Gujarat1332191132403417 Rajasthan1288591077181441 Haryana1237821059901307 Madhya Pradesh117588932382207 Punjab107096840253134 Chhatisgarh9856566860777 Jharkhand7770964515661 Jammu and Kashmir69832495571105 Uttarakhand4533233642555 Goa3107125071386 Puducherry2548919781494 Tripura2412717464262 Himachal Pradesh136799526152 Chandigarh112128677145 Manipur9791760263 Arunachal Pradesh8649623014 Nagaland5768469311 Meghalaya5158334343 Sikkim2707199431 Mizoram178612880
  Opinion   Columnists  05 Dec 2018  Quiet steps by India, Pak needed

Quiet steps by India, Pak needed

Published : Dec 5, 2018, 12:48 am IST
Updated : Dec 5, 2018, 12:48 am IST

A dispute such as Kashmir may have to become irrelevant before it can be resolved.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (Photo: AP)
 Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (Photo: AP)

With the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, Prime Minister Imran Khan has been handed a diplomatic victory in his first 100 days, which beats his domestic score card hollow. But there are few who are willing to see this as a game changer in the stalemate that has been India-Pakistan relations in recent years.

The PM, of course, put a more optimistic spin on it. In his speech at the ceremony, he brought up the old rivalry between Germany and France to illustrate that hope springs eternal.

 

In this, he is not alone. The European Union is an example used by many an optimist to suggest that a rosy future awaits Pakistan and India. But can the subcontinent follow the European example? The European Community as we see it was a long time coming, and continues to remain a work in progress. It is important to recall how it began.

The first effort after the Second World War came in the shape of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951 and included six countries including France and Germany. And while it did expand trade between the member countries, it is not seen as a complete success. Its greatest achievement is seen as laying the foundation for greater cooperation and the Treaty of Rome, which established the common market for the member states.

 

Still, even the ECSC cannot be seen in isolation. It went hand in hand with Nato and the Marshall Plan which also encouraged European cooperation. But more than that, perhaps the world wars were the biggest motivating factor behind the ECSC.

Washington made it clear at the end of the Second World War that its aim was an independent Germany. For France, this meant that it had to rethink its past policies of invading German territory to ensure French security as had been done after the First World War. It now needed a new strategy — the alternative was the ECSC to ensure Germany could not use its steel and coal to build another “war machine”. In fact, after the end of the Second World War, the coal-dominated German region had been placed under an international body established by the allied powers, which was later replaced by the ECSC.

 

In other words, the idealistic idea of a united Europe was born of the necessities of realpolitik. There was some domestic opposition — Charles de Gaulle was an opponent of the ECSC. In Germany, political parties which aimed at a united Germany were against the community as they felt it pushed West Germany towards Europe.

And let’s not forget the biggest realpolitik reason of all — the threat from the Soviet Union, which is also seen to have provided an impetus to bringing the European countries together.

In the subcontinent, at present, there are few parallels to draw — no outside external threat; no superpower assistance for larger cooperation; and, especially, no debilitating war which could have put paid to aggressive ambitions against one another’s enemies.

 

Here perhaps we have a slower process at work — an increasing realisation (especially on the part of Pakistan) of the need for peace for economic growth.

A dispute such as Kashmir may have to become irrelevant before it can be resolved. This is to say that perhaps we shouldn’t look for a repeat of the Musharraf approach — to address Kashmir first.

As for the baby steps that can be taken, the film and cinema industry is a case in point. The cinema theatre industry in Pakistan would not have revived had the exhibition of Indian films not been allowed. Once the Indian films were exhibited, investors found it profitable to establish cinema theatres. The availability of cinema theatres in turn allowed local film-makers to make films. And this led to the rebirth of the Pakistani film industry.

 

In fact, when Indian films were banned from cinema theatres towards the end of 2016 due to Pakistan-India tensions, it didn’t last long. The losses the cinema theatre owners faced necessitated a change within months. This is one example of a peace constituency.

Is it wrong to assume that there can be more such examples of cooperation and trade? Small and unnoticed ones that quietly build up constituencies of peace? (Ideally, even Kartarpur should have been a quiet step so that it didn’t turn into a point-scoring exercise between the two rivals.) The power of quiet should never be underestimated.

By arrangement with Dawn

Tags: kartarpur corridor, imran khan