On the basis of the past hostility and grievances, Pakistan and India have fallen into a pattern of viewing any matter regarding their bilateral ties from the viewpoint of security. The strategic approaches of Islamabad and New Delhi have largely been shaped by their respective ideologies and historical experiences.
The disinclination of New Delhi to let go of the past, consider Pakistan as a permanent entity, and shape their policies accordingly, has persisted to be a barrier for the resolution of issues amid both the states. As for Islamabad, the entire state narrative has long been designed in relation with and as a retort to the strategic choices of New Delhi. For Islamabad, the construction of threat has remained India-centric.
Military, economy, and socio-political arenas have been the principal domains of security concerns amid the two neighbours. The main areas of conflict continue to be Kashmir, Siachen, water distribution and nuclearization of both the states. In addition, augmenting the financial outgoings on armed forces and arsenal has not been successful in warranting the security of the two antagonistic neighbours. Since the security threats encountered by both have evolved over time, there is a need to re-evaluate the pattern of spending on armed defense and quicken moves to engender harmony.
The regional security conditions are stranded amid terrorism and nuclear dynamics. The situation is worsening due to absence of talks, persistent skepticism, lack of control on arms build-up, and the surge of radical political fronts.
The political entities hold bitterness and clashes keep on recurring as the two sides do not deal with the inherent matters. Still, the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in his speech following the elections stated, “We are ready to improve ties with India. If you take one step forward we will take two steps forward.” Similar willingness has been shown by him in his letter to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for resumption of talks on all matters including terrorism and Kashmir dispute.
A vital indication of India taking a step forward in the bilateral ties would have been its attendance in the SAARC summit in Islamabad. However, New Delhi did not respond positively to Islamabad’s gesture. Also, the recent blatant Indian refusal of Pakistan’s call for meeting of the foreign ministers, reflect the former’s apprehension regarding the loss of support in domestic politics.
Without a sustained dialogue process over the long-existing disputes, the threat of escalation and nuclear confrontation will continue to loom over the region.