India and Pakistan have not always seen eye to eye on many matters, until recently. A series of events have taken place in the past few days which started a discussion on the possible friendship between the two eternal rivals. Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi won many Pakistani hearts when he sent a heartfelt message to Imran Khan. The premier caught the virus on 20th March and PM Modi tweeted best wishes for him.
The message was received well by the majority whereas some entities doubted the seriousness and authenticity of that tweet. However, it didn’t stop here as the Indian government later wished to eliminate the unrest between the two countries.
Are India and Pakistan Considering Rapprochement?
A series of friendly statements and moves have happened before and after PM Modi wished PM Imran Khan, a speedy recovery from COVID-19. The discussion about moving forward with cordial relations intensified after the militaries of both India and Pakistan released a joint statement. This statement announced a ceasefire along a disputed border of Kashmir that has seen hundreds of conflicts over the course of history. Both countries have fought 2 out of 3 wars for the Himalayan region since 1947.
The ceasefire led Imran Khan to repeat his advocacy for peace between the archrivals. However, he said that India must take the first step towards peace by restoring the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination.
Following Khan, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (CoAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa also promoted peace talks during a seminar on security issues in Islamabad.
Recently, PM Modi wrote a letter to his Pakistani counterpart, in which he expressed desire for burying the hatchet. The inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor also played a pivotal role in the progressing peace between disputing countries.
Pakistan Welcomes the Gesture of Goodwill, but…
There was no official word from the foreign offices after the letter got viral in global media. However, many officials and journalists in Pakistan deemed this letter from PM Modi, a gesture of goodwill. However, some of them remained skeptical like there was some covert motive hidden behind the apparent handshake drive from India.
Most opined that it would be more concrete if India restored the special status of Kashmir. In 2019, BJP led government revoked articles 370 and 35 A of the Indian Constitution which stripped away the legal rights of all residents in Kashmir. Moreover, there were curfews and communication cuts that basically made the lives of citizens miserable.
Shireen Mazari also brought up the same discussion and mentioned that peace highly depended upon the resolution of the Kashmir issue, and any other issue for that matter. Conflicts will surely continue to hinder successful relations between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan seemed a little hesitant in accepting the stance of India, as it was presented. Only a few months ago, a European Agency unearthed an entire Indian disinformation campaign working in the dark to discredit Pakistan internationally. In a different view, popular news agency Bloomberg reported that United Arab Emirates (UAE) might have played a dark role in achieving common ground between India and Pakistan. UAE shares a friendly relationship with both rivals. It is possible that due to economic challenges presented by COVID-19, even worse enemies were becoming focused on coping with unprecedented outcomes.
Discussions on Rights to Indus River Waters
Apart from the sweetness on social media and TV, delegations from both sides have been taking practical steps as well. One of the many disputes between the partitioners of the Hind sub-continent included some controversial hydroelectric projects.
India planned on building multiple dams (Pakul Dam, Lower Kalnai dams) on the Chenab River. Pakistan argued that such a project would disrupt the river flow in the area of Kashmir. India on the other hand denied Pakistan’s view on the basis of the Indus Waters Treaty. Amid the whole geopolitical tension, two sides have finally met to talk over this issue for the first time since India revoked the autonomy of Kashmir. The Permanent Indus Commission will hold the meeting for two days (23rd March and 24th March) to talk about Indus Waters rights according to the peace treaty.
The World Bank brokered this treaty between India and Pakistan in 1960, which bifurcated the water system of the Indus River. It delimited the rights and obligations of both countries and allowed them to mutually use the Indus River system. Several conflicts have happened over the years and in 2017, Pakistan highly objectified the construction of Chenab dams. The US offered to mediate peace talks, which Pakistan agreed to but India disagreed. Pakistan negotiated whether India’s plan to build a hydroelectric plant on the Chenab river violated the terms of the treaty.