It is with great concern that we are witnessing a dangerous escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan after the deadly Pulwama attack, which claimed the lives of more than 40 Indian security personnel in the Indian-controlled Kashmir. We condemn the attack and view it as a mindless act of violence that only serves to make it more difficult to attain peace in the valley. We also offer our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.
India's reaction of wanting to give a 'befitting' reply after such a deadly attack is understandable given Pakistan's obvious involvement in Kashmir but blaming Pakistan directly requires more evidence. At the same time, we have seen an inadequate response from Pakistan to address India's longstanding concerns about allowing terrorist groups to find asylum within its territory. It is alleged not only by India but also many other international entities that a section of the country's establishment, hostile to the idea of peace, harbours armed groups that carry out cross-border terrorist acts. Pakistan must commit to do more in dismantling these non-state actors.
On the other hand, the nationalist elements in India have, since the attack, created an environment in which anything less than revenge would be deemed unacceptable. Yet this is the last thing that should be contemplated. The most prudent thing for India to do would be exercise restraint and not fall into the trap of a war, which would destabilise not just both the countries but also the entire region.
India should also protect Kashmiri civilians and those voicing peace from nationalist jingoists. The government's silence over the attacks on these people would further alienate them.
We call on leaders of both the countries to rein in their threat of war which will only bring grief on both sides and escalate hostilities further. We request both members of Saarc to use all other peaceful channels besides war to resolve the issues that have led to such tensions. Both parties should make sure that the interests of the Kashmiri people's are taken into account.