January 16, 2016

India: Attack on PIA (Editorial in Dawn, 16 Jan 2016)

DAWN, January 16th, 2016

Attack on PIA

It is indeed welcome that India has arrested the chief of a Hindu extremist outfit responsible for ransacking the PIA office in Delhi on Thursday.

Earlier, the Hindu Sena said it had carried out the act of vandalism because it opposed talks with Pakistan unless “stern action” was taken against individuals like Dawood Ibrahim and Hafiz Saeed.

The symbolic value of the attack cannot be missed as PIA’s Delhi office, and the Pakistani high commission in the Indian capital, are the most visible representations of this country’s presence across the border.

As the peace process between Pakistan and India cautiously moves forward, there is no dearth of bigoted elements on both sides of the border who will try and thwart progress.

The Pathankot air force base incident was, of course, the most obvious attempt to derail the talks.

It is positive that Islamabad and New Delhi are dealing with attempts to sabotage peace talks maturely, unlike many previous responses from both capitals. We can be sure that if the process moves forward — and especially if there is substantive progress — then spoilsports in both countries will try and throw a spanner in the works. In this country, the anti-India lobby balks at the thought of normalisation of ties with Pakistan’s ‘traditional enemy’.

In India, groups inimical to Pakistan, especially the more extreme elements of the Sangh Parivar, will similarly pull out all the stops to prevent Islamabad and New Delhi from coming closer.

Indian media has reported that the Hindu Sena wants to disrupt the Delhi-Lahore bus service as well as the Samjhauta Express train link. In view of these threats, the Indian government must provide additional security to these symbols of the Pakistan-India relationship, as well as Pakistan’s assets across the border.

Considering that the Hindu far right is part of Prime Minister Modi’s constituency, the BJP government has a greater responsibility to rein in rabidly anti-Pakistan elements. Both countries must continue to deal with provocations maturely, and keep the peace process moving.