Aug. 14, 2015, is Pakistan’s Independence Day, which marks the day in 1947 when they won their freedom from the British. However, amidst the holiday celebration, a violent Indian-Pakistani exchange of gunfire occurred, leaving a woman dead and her two daughters and husband injured. President Mamnoon Hussain, under heavy security, reaffirmed his intent to renew talks with India following the acceptance of an invitation from India to reopen talks later this month. Indian military spokesperson Lt. Col. Manish Mehta has told the press that during the week leading up to the holiday, machine guns, mortars and grenades were fired across the border, making this use of force a justified response. Pakistan maintains that the attack was unprovoked.
While this violent exchange demonstrates the ongoing tension between these two nations, it may also provide an opportunity for a new page in Indian-Pakistani relations. In the area around Kashmir, there are those who remember the 1951 battle between the two nations that included 63 different raids, as well as the fighting that occurred in 2000 that left 638 Indian militants and 842 civilians dead. It is in an effort to avoid this type of loss that the two sides have agreed to meet later this month.
Whether the talks will be productive is of concern to many. According to the Indian Express, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with his ministers, have “held out threats to Pakistan,” yet prior to Modi, there was a sentiment shared by those such as former National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, that “Talk-talk is better than fight-fight, but it hasn’t worked yet.” Within Pakistan there are signs of change to be considered as well. The nation was created to separate Muslims and minorities from the rest of India in order to preserve their rights. Some feel this intention has not endured and that the rights of the minorities, including those of various religious sects, have come to be compromised once again.
The Indian Express discusses how peace talks in the past, aimed at resolving the conflict along the border, have not worked because the talks are often seen as an end, and not a means to an end. The new source also acknowledges that fighting is a process and not an end. India argues that their rival believes that they are able to attack them with impunity through “covert” operations, and that talks will eventually happen, but it is not their position to initiate them. Others believe that India is practicing stalling tactics in order to postpone drafting a detailed peace agreement that will last.
This year’s Independence Day celebration in Kashmir was blemished by a violent Indian-Pakistani military exchange. President Hussain, in a speech leading up to the celebration, expressed his desire to renew peace talks with India. Unfortunately, unexpected military action resulted in the death of a woman and injury to her family members. Peace talks, which are set to begin later this month, will offer both sides an opportunity to resolve issues that have persisted since the 1950s.
By Joel Wickwire
Deseret News:Pakistan Renews Talks Offer to India on Resolving Kashmir
Economic Times: Why Was Pakistan Created, Asks Pakistani Daily
StarTribune: Pakistan – India Exchange of Gunfire in Disputed Kashmir Kills Woman, Forces Villagers to Flee
The Indian Express: A New Toolkit: For Talks to Succeed, India Needs to Tackle Pak’s Covert War
Top/Featured Image Courtesy of Man Bartlett’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Narendra Modi’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License