Maryam’s olive branch

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The onus is on Islamabad to create an environment free of terror so that the resumption of trade relations as well as composite dialogue to sort out all issues, including Kashmir, is possible.

Published Date – 21 April 2024, 11:59 PM


Maryam’s olive branch


Sentiments don’t often drive hard diplomacy. In a limited way, they may help create the initial optics but don’t provide the substance. The Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab State Maryam Nawaz may have struck the right chord by extending an olive branch to India but her outreach has severe limitations.

It does not have the potential to break the diplomatic ice. While addressing around 3,000 Sikh pilgrims at Kartarpur Sahib, Maryam Nawaz, the heir apparent of three-time Pakistan Prime Minister and PML(N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, invoked the linguistic and cultural similarity among Punjabis on both sides of the border and spoke about the power of ‘Punjabiyat’ in uniting the people of two countries.


Pakistan’s Punjab is the country’s largest province and much of its political, military and cultural elite is Punjabi. She also mentioned friendship with India, religious tolerance and celebrating Eid, Baisakhi and Holi. Maryam’s friendly overtures came close on the heels of Foreign Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar’s remark that Pakistani businessmen want trade with India and that his government was “seriously considering” the matter. Expressing right sentiments is all fine but the core issue remains India’s concerns over cross-border terrorism. Islamabad needs to demonstrate its commitment to dismantling the terror factories operating on its soil.

One of the major stumbling blocks to revival of normalcy in the bilateral relations has been Pakistan’s intransigence on the Kashmir issue.

The new coalition government of PML (N)-PPP is only continuing the past trend. Pakistani rulers must realise that their obsession with Kashmir will not lead them anywhere.

It was pointless on the part of President Asif Ali Zardari to call for restoration of special status to Jammu & Kashmir, an entirely internal matter of India.

Crossborder terrorism, being nurtured and promoted by Pakistan for decades, is the single most important issue that needs to be tackled for normalisation of bilateral ties. There is a growing realisation across the world that Pakistan has become a hub for global terror and that it continues to pursue the policy of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy to inflict the much-touted ‘death by thousand cuts’ on India.

The onus is on Islamabad to create an environment free of terror so that the resumption of trade relations as well as composite dialogue to sort out all issues, including Kashmir, is possible.

India has been steadfast in its position that trade and terrorism cannot go together and that Islamabad must take credible steps to dismantle terror infrastructure and end the support to anti-India militant outfits operating from its soil.

The only option for Pakistan to resume dialogue with India is by uprooting terrorist groups, who have become extra constitutional stakeholders in Islamabad’s Kashmir dream

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