Cross-border Terrorism As Substantive An Issue As J&K: Nirupama Rao19 October 2010
New Delhi: India today said terrorism arising out of the sub-conventional conflict directed by Pakistan against it for over two decades cannot be ignored and was as substantive an issue as Jammu & Kashmir. Outlining India's approach to ties with Pakistan, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said advocacy of an incremental, graduated and forward-looking approach to address the trust deficit was by no means an attempt to avoid tackling the substantive differences that trouble the bilateral relations. 'While there can be no guarantees for success, such an approach seeks to build first on what is achievable and simultaneously to also address the more intractable issues in a sustained manner. 'The issue of terrorism arising out of the sub-conventional conflict directed by Pakistan against India for over two decades now, cannot be ignored either. It is as substantive an issue as the issue of Jammu & Kashmir, or the issue of the Siachen Glacier,' she said in her address at a symposium here on 'The Future of India-Pakistan Relations'. Noting that a host of issues continue to bedevil India-Pakistan relations and cast long shadows on bilateral ties, she advocated 'imaginative and creative' approaches to tackle issues of security, confidence-building and the differences over Jammu & Kashmir to bury 'rusting, corrosive hatchet' of sixty years of the relations. In this context, she underlined the need for economic linkages and enhanced people-to-people contacts as they seek to pave the way for a serious and comprehensive dialogue and could build the sinews of a more 'durable and lasting' peace so that the dawn of a new era does not remain a chimera. She asserted that it was incumbent on each and every one to persevere with patience and dedication so that future generations do not remain hostage to a poison-ridden legacy of political misunderstandings and geopolitical antagonisms. She also pointed out that India's efforts to bridge the trust deficit and pave the way for a serious and comprehensive dialogue were thwarted by a level of overreach by Pakistan that complicated the resumption of a sustained dialogue process. 'However, we do not view this as a set-back in our quest for peace as both sides appear to be committed to ensuring that the spirit of Thimphu is not lost. The foreign minister of Pakistan has accepted our invitation to visit India, dates for which will be decided through diplomatic channels. We will continue to strive for a resolution of all outstanding issues through dialogue,' she said. 'In the India-Pakistan discourse, we have literally eaten bitterness for the last sixty years and given the complexities of our ties, the task of improvement in ties is also Sisyphean,' Rao said. At the same time she wondered what explains the warm and spontaneous applause of thousands of spectators at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on October 3 this year when the Pakistani contingent entered the stadium for the opening ceremony of the 19th Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Or the statements of support from the Pakistani sports authorities in the run up to the Games when others were vying with each other to write off the event before it had started?, she said adding 'on the one hand there is the push of realism that compels us to see the relationship with Pakistan as hobbled by its many limitations. 'While on the other hand, there is the pull of emotion, of sentiment, of the muffled footsteps of shared history that beat in our blood, that generates a response that is giving and generous.' Rao said predicting the course of one of the most complex and unpredictable relationships in the modern era was a task that most intrepid astrologers would hesitate to undertake but asserted that the choices for the future are 'stark and real. 'Either we learn to live together in peace and harmony or we risk imparting to future generations our differences and prejudices that will continue to divide us rather than unite us and indeed widen the gulf between us,' she said. Given the complexities of the relationship and the tortured path that the two countries have traversed till now, it is easy to be cynical and predict a gloomy future, she said. 'However, as an eternal optimist and someone who believes in the power of people to shape their destiny I feel it is incumbent on all of us to strive and achieve a peaceful and mutually reinforcing relationship that will unlock the true potential of more than a billion people for their betterment,' Rao added.