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Indian Elections, Hopes And Fears: A View From Pakistan

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As Pakistan reels from the ruckus caused by a controversial election in July last year, 900 million voters are now headed to polling booths across India for the 2019 elections starting April 11, a staggering election process that culminates on May 19 and the winners and losers will be announced on Thursday, May 23rd.

The relations between Pakistan and India did not develop as Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah had wished. He wanted to have a relationship on the lines of Canada’s relationship with the United States. Sadly, Pakistan and India repeatedly waged wars on each other, border skirmishes are almost a routine, besides the war hysteria that has gripped both nations for most part of the last 7 decades.

Whether the issues of national security reign supreme and help BJP get re-elected or the broken promises and socio-economic failures of the incumbent government help its opponents to rise to power will be clear in less than two months now.

India and Pakistan almost went into a war last month and still haven’t recovered from its hangover. The fear of war between both countries gives sleepless nights not only to over 1.5 billion peace-loving people of the subcontinent but also the world at large since both countries have developed the capacity not only to decimate each other but also bring the entire globe to nuclear winter and the proverbial Armageddon, because both are now nuclear-armed nations.

But it is not the weapons of mass destruction that cause friction between both nations but the capacity to destabilise each other that entices them to walk on the warpath every now and then.

While Kashmir is a vulnerable spot for India, Pakistan has its own vulnerable points. It is the lack of trust that forces both states to fish in each other’s troubled waters. This is what gives birth to proxy wars and creates instability.

There is a good body of information available in the public space suggesting the realisation of this problem at the policy levels in Pakistan. There is realisation that the current policy of both states destabilising each other is not sustainable as it is eating out the economic viability of Pakistan. The war hysteria affects the economic trajectory of India, especially the international investments there. Indian ambition to project its regional power in South Asia too is negatively impacted by its deteriorating relations with its western neighbour Pakistan.

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Whoever comes to power in South Block is not for us to decide. It is the exclusive prerogative of the Indian people to choose their ruling party. What is certain is that both India and Pakistan will continue going down in the quicksand of history if they do not heal the Achilles heel of their mistrust.

In the post elections scenario, both countries would have to build confidence through verifiable mechanisms to stop creating trouble for each other. Both also need to focus on enfranchising their people in the troubled spots to achieve full stability.

I imagine a free and friendly South Asia where people can simply drive from Kolkata to Quetta without anybody stopping them and enjoy peace and prosperity without fears of nuclear wars. Yes, it is a dream worth living for.

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