Why PM must visit Pakistan

Every crime sows a seed of opportunity, which, if wisely nurtured, can create conditions that reduce the likelihood of its recurrence. Human capacity to repeat wrongs is of course unlimited, history being a sobering record of our fallibility. However, no less unlimited is the human ability to learn from past wrongs and create new history.

The 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai was a war-like crime. Non-state actors like Ajmal Kasab—the lone surviving Pakistani terrorist who was executed on Wednesday for his role in the savagery—alone couldn't have carried it out without the protection of state agencies. Pakistani leaders should abandon denial and double-speak on this issue.

The silver lining is that Pakistan's capacity, also intent, to repeat the misadventure of attacking India, in overt or covert wars, is shrinking. It has derived no benefit whatsoever from its overt wars in 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999, nor from the covert war of jihad-inspired terrorism, of which 26/11 was both the most spectacular and also the most counter-productive manifestation. If anything, the cost of maintaining anti-Indianism as the core of its military, foreign and social policy is steadily escalating. Like the mythical Bhasmasura, state-aided terrorism that targeted India has begun taking a heavy toll on Pakistan's own society. Surely, circumstances are forcing its rulers to count the cost of the numerous terrorist attacks on Sufi and Shia shrines, of sheltering Osama bin Laden on their soil, and of the bad name their country has earned worldwide due to the recent Malala episode.

Indeed, as a result of numerous internal and external developments—the reduced power of its military to derail the country's democratisation and Pakistanis' growing disenchantment with America—more and more people at all levels in Pakistan have begun to realise the folly of viewing India as their enemy. Their number or power has not yet reached the tipping point, so as to effect a positive shift in Pakistan's attitude towards India. This we must recognise. Nevertheless, we must also recognise that one of the most conducive times for normalisation of Indo-Pak relations is NOW.

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