Prudent Starting Point

Prudent Starting Point
  • 2
    Shares

Prisoners, across the Indo Pak divide, languish in each country’s prisons. But, at the beginning of every year, India and Pakistan share the number of prisoners lodged in each respective country with a probable intent of releasing or swapping them. Generally speaking, prison and incarceration thereof, is not only an insalubrious and a terrible experience but a taxing one that exacts numerous tolls, emotionally, psychologically and physically. But, incarceration in a different locale or country is even worse, especially when the relations between the two border on the hostile. This has a special resonance for Indian and Pakistani prisoners who, for one reason, or the other, find themselves lodged in each others’ prisons. Besides the political hostility that obtains between India and Pakistan that, at times, spill over onto the domain of the interpersonal, there are cultural differences, among other things, that add to the burden(s). Prudence then suggests that prisoners lodged in jails across the divide be swapped, thus ending the misery they have to endure. Besides this humanitarian angle and perspective, there is a possible political one too. This pertains to the overall tenor and tone or relations that obtain between India and Pakistan, that border or teeter between hostility and a “cold peace”. A prisoner swap, against this backdrop, can serve as a prudent and good starting point for breaking the ice between India and Pakistan. But, breaking the ice cannot and should not constitute an end in itself. It should be in the nature of a starting point and an opening to resolve all issues between the two arch antagonists. Peace and prosperity for the peoples of South Asia is contingent on the nature of relations between India and Pakistan. If both, as political headwinds suggest, drift into outright hostility and animus against each other, the consequences will be insalubrious and deleterious for all, the natural outcome in a zero sum paradigm. What is needed is a positive sum paradigm which redounds to the benefit of all. This is not as difficult as it sounds. Prudent, deft and sober statecraft can be the ram rod, so to speak, that creates conditions for resolution of issues between the two antagonists. As things stand, it appears that the drift of conditions and events lend themselves to hostility. This, if sufficient will and determination are mustered can be countered by, to repeat, vigorous statecraft. A prisoner swap would be a good starting point.