No Substitute

No Substitute
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Track II diplomacy, essentially in the nature of a “venture” of non -governmental, unofficial and informal contacts between members of states caught usually in a conflict dyad, cannot be a substitute for genuine conflict resolution. This has a bearing and resonance on the “Track II” diplomatic overtures between India and Pakistan. Generally speaking, this form of diplomacy susses out the demand for peace, and other related themes in countries in contention and provides inputs to governments. But, in the final analysis, it is governments that are the ultimate arbiters of war, peace and conflict. Track II then becomes a notional exercise which may or may not yield desired results. In terms of the latter, its results can be fruitful, if Governments take serious note of inputs provided but this can happen only happen when governments are serious about peace or peaceful relations. In the context of Pakistan and India, it would appear that Track II corresponds to a notional, mechanical exercise which, in the end, amounts to nothing. The reasons pertain to the fact that both India and Pakistan are not really serious about developing and instituting a sober and long lasting paradigm of conflict resolution and hence peace between themselves. Against the backdrop of this context, Track II loses its salience and becomes rather infructuous. Is Track II then a useless exercise in terms of India and Pakistan? Largely is the answer. But, the encouraging aspect is that it can be substantive and meaningful if and when both India and Pakistan seriously and sincerely endeavor to resolve the conflict between the two. The major sticking point between the two is Kashmir which both countries view in zero sum terms. This approach makes conflict resolution unwieldy, truculent and almost impossible. For lasting peace, within and without, key is resolution of the Kashmir conflict. The route to peace lies through here. While there might be realization of this fact in the capitals of both India and Pakistan, but there does not appear to be sufficient will to do something about it. If and when this will is discovered and mustered, it is then that Track II will have not only substance but also meaning. Till then, the exercise is not only one in vanity but also one that is shorn of all heft and weight. It is about time a sober view and realization of the conflict is arrived at and a conflict resolution paradigm that redounds to the benefit of all be instituted.

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