A recent article by Air Vice Marshal Shahzad Chaudhry (retd) in Tribune will certainly grab your attention. One could not have expected a former Pakistani military officer— and that too an Inter-Services Public Relations favourite — to so candidly admit the India-Pakistan socio-economic disparity and argue that the bigger neighbour is now a regional power and global actor. Furthermore, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif recently said in an interview with Dubai-based Al Arabiya that the country has learnt its lesson and wants to make peace with India.
Since the 1990s, the mood in Pakistan has changed. India is important, but it’s not a major object of hate among the general public. Traders, merchants, and the business sector in Punjab and Karachi have little appetite for conflict or putting Kashmir as a priority. Similar views can be found among the youth. I recently spoke to students in Peshawar who said that fighting India was no longer important to them. Referring to Chaudhry’s article, I asked a friend if I could have gotten away with such a piece. They said: “No, not you, but the retired air marshal’s article could be a sign of things changing.” The question remains whether or not the change is accepted beyond the article and create an environment where new thinking will be implemented uninterrupted and others could express the same and get printed without being labelled as traitors.
Not too long ago, two other prominent Pakistani journalists, Javed Chaudhry and Hamid Mir claimed in their respective articles on former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa came close to solving the India-Pakistan peace mystery. Reportedly, the two countries were ready to freeze the Kashmir issue for about 20 years and start bilateral trade had it not been for former Prime Minister Imran Khan….