Friday, June 14, 2024
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Aman Ki Asha initiative

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A two day Aman Ki Asha strategic seminar was held to bring forward civil society’s solutions to the Sir Creek and Siachen issues clouding India-Pakistan relations. There was a convergence of views amongst experts from both countries stressing the need to mobilize public opinion to challenge the lack of political will in resolving bilateral disputes. The main threat to solutions was the indecisiveness of the political leadership in India and Pakistan. On Sir Creek panelists proposed involving provincial issues from Gujarat and Sind. Emphasis was also placed on co-operation between the two Punjabs. A Pakistani delegate disagreed with the policy of playing up Kashmir as the central issue. The Aman Ki Asha initiative has made a positive step forward. It has forced the political establishments to contest dominant security arrangements frustrating resolution of disputes. Militarization has threatened the fragile ecology of the Siachen glacier, described once by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a mountain of peace. Suggested solutions include joint management and creation of a “glacier park” to study glaciers and related issues.

On Sir Creek, it was suggested that 50 nautical miles into the sea may be declared a free zone till the dispute is settled. This could prevent fishermen from straying into territorial waters on either side and allow the two countries to use the resources of their respective continental shelf. Reference was made to the Chinese presence complicating the matter. That was a threat to India in Ladakh. All this is fine. But a Pakistani panelist was right in saying that the end to the crisis on Siachen is still far away. As long as cross border terrorism poisoned relations between India and Pakistan, talks on such fringe issues may not make any progress with India stalling on gathering sufficient evidence against Pakistan.

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