India’s 70th Independence Day could well mark a new era in relations between India and Pakistan. This August 15, India for once started talking back in Pakistan’s language. New Delhi accused Islamabad of committing atrocities against the people in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.
This had been coming for a few days now. The first domino fell during an all-party meeting on Kashmir, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi adopted the same confrontational stance as his counterpart in Pakistan. At the meeting, the prime minister said that Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir is an integral part of India. This acted as a setting for Modi to use his Independence Day speech to publicly decry Pakistan’s efforts to subjugate the Baloch struggle and announce India’s support for the same.
Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar on Tuesday took the rhetoric a notch up and backed the prime minister’s comments by saying: “Going to Pakistan is same as going to hell“. Pakistan has often accused India of something similar, with normal life in Kashmir being affected for more than a month now and curfew imposed in most parts of the Valley. Telephone and internet services have been cut off intermittently, except for those using the state-run BSNL postpaid connections.
Not to be outdone, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reiterated his stand on Kashmir, saying the country unconditionally supports Kashmir’s “freedom struggle”. These comments were made during the change of guard at Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, with the incumbent ‘president’ stepping down on Tuesday. He tried to bring the world’s attention on the situation in kashmir, even though Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup has endlessly repeated that Pakistan has no locus standi on the Kashmir issue.
Pakistan also seems to have taken a step backwards in its fight on terror. It has so far been silent over Mumbai 26/11 attack mastermind Hafeez Saeed making a comeback on private TV channels. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PERMA), a national TV media watchdog, had banned channels from covering JuD after the United Nations declared Saeed a terrorist and his organisation a terror group. But Saeed has so far used the medium to denounce the Modi government and advocate the Kashmir cause.
And Monday’s killing of five militants trying to cross the border near Uri sector in Kashmir, only gives more ammunition to India’s narrative that terrorists have been using Pakistan as a springboard to spread terror.
However, it would appear that India taking an open stance on Balochistan could give Pakistan ammunition to forment more trouble in Kashmir. With the Kashmir issue not blowing over any time soon, it is high time both countries drum down the rhetoric and resume meaningful dialogue.