They had made a great sacrifice, preferring to stay here when their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and/or other relatives were moving away. How could the patriotism of these Indian Muslims be questioned?
Till recently, there prevailed the tendency among Hindu extremists with a communal mind-set, to question the patriotism of Indian Muslims simply because of the partition factor. Well, at one gathering, where this point was made by a speaker, this journalist objected to it strongly. How could he question the patriotism of the Indian Muslims when at the time of partition, they preferred the partition of their families than crossing borders to become Pakistani citizens? They had made a great sacrifice, preferring to stay here when their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and/or other relatives were moving away. How could the patriotism of these Indian Muslims be questioned? Since then, thankfully, that particular speaker and his associates have ceased to question the Indian Muslims’ patriotism and/or link them with Pakistan.
It would be unfair to hold all Indians responsible for instantly linking Indian Muslims with Pakistan. Interestingly, non-Muslim Indians have played a crucial role in recent years to enhance people-to-people interaction between Indians and Pakistanis. Howsoever cold Indo-Pak ties may be at the diplomatic level, they have practically ceased to have any negative impact on their sociocultural relations. The Pak factor earlier linked with the Indian Muslims has lost its relevance for leaders responsible for spreading this hype primarily because of the improvement in Indo-Pak ties. In addition, with the Indian political stage dominated by numerous parties, the Indian Muslim’s vote has assumed a major importance in today’s coalition drama. Politicians in both countries have ceased indulging in war-laced rhetoric, which at one time was viewed as a key note during their respective electoral campaigns. Even though most rounds of their talks may be viewed by critics as cosmetic diplomacy, India and Pakistan have certainly come a long way from literally fighting over their differences. Though Indo-Pak ties have yet to be described as “friendly,” it is a blessing that they are at least serious about resolving their differences through “cordial talks.”
Some importance must also be given to the Indo-Pak border, particularly the controversial LoC, from a new—a positive—angle. The bus service between New Delhi and Lahore was initiated by then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 20 February 1999. The resumption of this bus service, affected by the Kargil crisis, was announced by India on 26 May 2003. The then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf called for a ceasefire along the LoC at the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2003.
Subsequently, at midnight on 25–26 November 2003, India and Pakistan implemented a formal ceasefire along the international border and the Actual Ground Position Line in Jammu & Kashmir. The passenger and freight rail service between Attari and Lahore was resumed on 15 January 2004. The two countries exchanged six prisoners of war at the Wagah border post on 9 August 2004. They exchanged 55 prisoners along the Wagah border crossing on 31 August 2004. India handed over 25 Pakistani prisoners at the same place on 9 November 2004.
It would be unfair to hold all Indians responsible for instantly linking Indian Muslims with Pakistan. Interestingly, non-Muslim Indians have played a crucial role in recent years to enhance people-to-people interaction between Indians and Pakistanis.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the United Progressive Alliance chairperson flagged off the first bus service from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad on 7 April 2005. The bus service from Lahore to Amritsar began on 20 January 2006. A year later, on 1 October 2007, the first overland truck route between India and Pakistan was opened at the Wagah border crossing. The Indo-Pak night bus service from Ferozepur and Fazilka to Ludhiana and Chandigarh was resumed on 7 March 2006. The Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service was flagged off on 24 March 2006. India and Pakistan agreed on 3 May 2006 to revive trade in Kashmir. 30 May 2006, they formally agreed to trade raw products between Jammu & Kashmir (India) and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers agreed on 21 May 2008 to a series of Kashmir-specific CBMs, including a triple-entry permit to facilitate crossing the LoC. The formal announcement of opening several trade routes between India and Pakistan was made on 25 September 2008. They decided to open the Wagah-Atari road link, the Khokrapur-Munnabao rail link as well as the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot roads. This was followed by a visit of a delegation of business leaders from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to Jammu & Kashmir for discussions on trade across the LoC. Trade across the LoC commenced on 21 October 2008. This may be viewed as a major diplomatic development as this trade link across the LoC was opened for the first time in six decades.
A day later, a second trade route across the LoC, connecting Rawalkot and Poonch, was opened. During the fifth round of talks between the home secretaries on 25 November 2008, India and Pakistan agreed to enhance cooperation between their civilian investigation and security agencies to deal with several cross-border issues. Following the Mumbai strikes, Indian and Pakistani director generals of military operations used their hotline to discuss troop movements along the border.