Oh My Lord. Such a heavy, complicated and frankly over-exploited topic! Hence I will keep it short.
In short, the nuclear weapons-armed neighbours are not friendly.
The main point of friction (the term used extremely loosely) is an area which has been the bone of contention between the two nations since they finally got rid of the British Empire. The Empire did everything they could, like a wounded Samurai before being killed, flexing all its muscles to remain in power. It resulted in a partition that not only saw a genocide of epic proportion on both sides of the border but created a situation in the Indian subcontinent.
This “situation” is the ownership of the landmass called Kashmir. Both countries claim it. It has been subjected to wars, terrorism and economic failure. I was born in the year 1985 and since I can remember, I have been very aware of the hostility between the two countries on a daily basis, the media loves that kind of thing and presents duly with generous amounts of garnishing and condiments for consumption.
However I have been seeing some developments since the 2000s, at least on the Indian side. India has deeply become an economy centric country. Although people are still manipulated by media: “Pakistan, bad country, terrorist country, villain”, but people’s priorities have shifted. People now aspire to be financially successful. There is an openness of culture in India, a voice of the youth and a large chunk of young voters who basically care more about progress and development rather than weaponising India. India being secular helped not only to increase the feeling of unity but also provided an atmosphere of friction between the people who opposed it. As a result the “issue” of communalism and religious verses national identity always stayed on a fore front in people’s mind.
From what I (a fortunate but measly Indian woman) have understood about the relationship between the two countries is the following:
1. Both sides want peace.
2. Both sides have manipulative leaders and hardliners who would say nasty, hostile rubbish and feed it to gullible middle and lower classes.
3. India’s reputation is positive even in Pakistan!
4. Pakistan needs democracy (independent of religion).
5. The leadership of both sides are not ready to budge or accept a small amount of “bowing down” or exploitation or angering few hardliners for a higher, more noble cause referred to as PEACE and PROSPERITY.
6. Foreign powers are useless mediators because they are selfish.They may rather be exacerbating the situation.
7. The developed part of the world is benefitting from the squabbles and watches gladly with schadenfreude.
In a nutshell, the 70 year old conflict is just like any other chronic international conflict. What I am interested in, is why has the leadership and establishment on both the sides failed to neutralize the situation. Apparently the need to keep the status quo of poverty on both sides whilst buying extremely expensive heavy killing machinery, trumps all reason.
I remember talking to a collegue from Pakistan about the mountain peak K2. I said it was in India and he, Pakistan. We both looked at each other with wide eyes of confusion, not hostility. At the same time a Professor (*ahem* from Switzerland) laughed at us, dare I say: with schadenfreude. This is basically the summary of the conflict. While both the countries with vast potential are busy squabbling, the third parties not only watch entertaining themselves but also benefit monetarily holding the countries back in the middle ages.
Watching attempts at peace talks fail year after year is not only sad but also boring. Unfortunately the price of this charade is being paid by manipulated citizens and the army soldiers. A potential world threatening daily telenovela that just doesn’t end, is not what my generation wants.
How can one knock some sense into the establishment of the two countries?