A parliamentary panel recommended a “broader perspective” on cultural and sporting exchanges as a peace measure between India and Pakistan, with their ties oscillating between “crisis and dialogue”.
The proposal comes in the backdrop of strained Indo-Pak sporting ties. The two majorly affected sports have been cricket and hockey where the bilateral contests have trickled to a bare minimum.
The two nations face each other mostly in global events like the cricket World Cup and the Champions Trophy. The last Indo-Pak bilateral series took place in India back in 2012.
The Committee on External Affairs in its report in the Lok Sabha also identified various “obstacles” to the normalisation of Indo-Pak ties and described Pakistan’s use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy to destabilise India in general and Jammu and Kashmir in particular as a “biggest hindrance” in smooth ties.
Maintaining that it is in complete agreement with the foreign secretary’s stance of sending a strong message to Pakistan that by continuing the atrocious acts it cannot take India’s goodwill and generosity for granted, the panel said, “therefore, it is important to be consistent and to stay the course”.
At the same time, the committee does feel that engagement at the cultural, sporting and humanitarian levels should continue, the report said.
“The issues of cultural contacts emerged as a ‘chicken and egg’ problem, wherein some members of the Committee were of the opinion that cultural contacts need to be put on hold to put across the larger point that terrorism will not be tolerated and inaction on part of Pakistan for such acts would lead to closing of all channels of contact,” it said.
However, a few members opined that despite the fact of hostility from the Pakistani ‘deep state’ (Pakistan Army and its intelligence agency ISI), the cultural exchange should not fall prey to political relations between two countries, it added.
“Taking a holistic picture, the committee is of the considered opinion that cultural, sporting and humanitarian exchanges need to be approached from a broader perspective as this could emerge as one potential area of creating peace constituencies in both the countries,” the committee said.
It also said, despite gloomy predictions about the “inevitability of antagonism” between India and Pakistan, the committee is of the strong view that if proper diplomatic measures are taken by both the countries to address the present stumbling block (the absence of structured dialogue) and if there is more cultural and economic engagement, there is a hope for conflict resolution.