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Challenges and Prospects for Peace in South Asia

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In the heart of Kashmir’s Poonch district, a chilling incident unfolded on December 22. Mohammad Showkat, aged 22, Safeer Hussain, aged 45, and Shabir Ahmad, aged 32, were taken in the morning and returned lifeless later that day—three more additions to the tragic toll of over 100,000 Kashmiris claimed by India’s occupying forces in the past 35 years.

As Pakistan approaches a crucial election in less than six weeks, a shift in focus toward dialogue with India appears imminent. However, this potential pivot raises concerns, reflecting on historical missed opportunities for cooperation. Reflecting on December 25, 2015, when optimism surged with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lahore, the author contemplates what might have been—a trajectory where economic growth and diplomatic normalization took precedence.

Yet, the author contends that the narrative shifted drastically in 2016, marked by India’s claim of ‘surgical strikes’ and inflammatory rhetoric from Prime Minister Modi. Ceasefire violations surged, and in 2019, India unilaterally altered the status quo in Kashmir, a move that rattled the region and strained relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors. The author argues that India’s actions, from endorsing economic sanctions to launching missiles into Pakistani territory, reveal a formal policy architecture aimed at Pakistan.

The geopolitical landscape, according to the author, presents a stark reality. India’s leaders, institutions, and even its military arsenal seem strategically aligned against Pakistan. Despite an economic gap favoring India, the author questions the wisdom of bending over backward for peace with a nation exhibiting a belligerent stance.

The article grapples with the question of whether economic incentives can assuage the deeply rooted Hindu supremacist sentiments in India. The backdrop of historical incidents and the current geopolitical context raises doubts about the feasibility of further concessions from Pakistan. As the region navigates these complexities, the overarching dilemma remains: How does Pakistan pursue peace while confronting an India seemingly unyielding in its posture?

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