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Saturday, February 17, 2024

Indo-Pak: Polished guns but impoverished humans

Human development is necessary for both India and Pakistan. It is high time for both the states to revisit their priorities, as ever-increasing expenditures in defense and security will not improve their citizens' lives. Covid-19 crisis has proven that large sums of money spent on military hardware will not help in saving lives during a pandemic.

In the world of conflicts, a quest for peace and human security is inevitable. Even though the credibility of the United Nations has certainly become questionable on conflicts amongst states, its efforts in the domain of peace-building and human security are certainly affective and worth appreciating in developing and under-developed states.

United Nations: A lacking human development agenda

Relating the idea of security with people, instead of territories, was the basic concept of Human Security. This was first coined by UNDP in its Human development report “New Dimensions of Human Security” in 1994. The idea was certainly thought-provoking as, before that, the lens of security was limited to the protection of territories and response to armed conflicts. The concept in its self is very broad. However, seven essential elements: Economy, Health, Politics, Personal, Food, Environmental and Community were enlisted as the basis of human security.

Various factors have not been given due consideration by the UN. Religion, caste, creed and ideological orientation are few of the important factors in the context of South Asia that can be part of the human security concept. Although human development remains a focused agenda in the developed world, the situation in developing states remains seriously alarming.

Read more: Kashmir: Iran’s handling of Israel offers valuable lessons for Pakistan

Invest on human development, not military equipment

Pakistan and India are two highly militarized nuclear states of South Asia, where the concepts of human development and human security seems a far cry. Both the states are suffering from poor health and economic condition, political instability, poisoned and contaminated food with branded labels, environmental degradation, and culturally and racially intense communities. Even then — military might remains a priority for both the nations — as humans on both sides of the border may survive — but aggression against each other has to be responded with complete zeal and strength. Extremist tendencies and aggression against each other remain a very dominant factor in the bilateral relationship of both the states.

The latest Citizen Amendment Act passed in India is another example of extremist tendencies and hatred against Muslims suffering under Hindu leadership. India is already being bashed for imposing a curfew and committing serious human rights violations in occupied Kashmir. It’s also being called out for introducing anti-Muslim legislation which hurt the sentiments of 210 million Muslims across the country. Muslims of India protested against the Modi government and his extremist policies, as the country’s political and communal environment was seriously intensified. How can a country which accounts for 11% of the Muslim population all across the globe, ignore rights of an entire community?

Though, the BJP government faced serious challenges after this bill was passed from the Parliament. It even conceded defeat in the eastern state of Jharkhand. Even then, the implementation on the legislation was not suspended, nor violence on Muslims was stopped. Violent protests erupted in Assam and across North-Eastern states which further intensified the situation. The students from Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University and various other institutions, through their protests, created serious trouble for the government and security agencies. Videos of students protesting against the policies of government surfaced on social media daily, initiating a stark debate amongst communities.

Similarly, Asad-ud-din Owaisi, an Indian MP, criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan. It’s believed that those words were put in his mouth by their establishment. While Pakistan and India rank 150 and 129 in human development index concurrently, the fact that CAA bill will further impact human security in India cannot be neglected. Economic progress will be downgraded and anti-Muslim rift across different states of India will surge, leading to conflicts and internal instability. Besides, all the other religious minorities of India would also adopt an anti-Muslim orientation to save themselves from BJP’s wrath. Pursuing principles of extremism and hatred as a national narrative will not let India remain a secular state.

Read more: Pakistan’s cause of Kashmir: The role of our friends

Human development is a necessity in the 21st century for both India and Pakistan, if they intend to follow the path towards prosperity. It is high time for both the states to revisit their priorities, as ever-increasing expenditures in defense and security will not help people of both the states to improve their lives. The prevailing Covid-19 crisis proves that both the states spent large sums of money on military hardware, which has become useless today. Now. both the States are facing shortages of ventilators for virus infected patients, in addition to this, they are also facing shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to provide their doctors and paramedical staff. Even surgical masks for the common people are not available.

Even though both the countries are nuclear states, clean drinking water is a luxury for a major chunk of the population. A good number of people sleep daily without having food. Malnutrition in children is a common phenomenon and is being treated as a given. How can a country still afford to invest in maximizing its security, if its people cannot even afford the basic necessities of life? How can a country afford to create an environment of extremism and hatred through laws, if it is unable to grow in terms of its GDP?

Indo-Pak relations: What not to do?

Undoubtedly, Pakistan and India share complex differences with decades of unresolved disputes which cannot be fixed in a matter of days or months. Revocation of Article 370 and 35-A, coupled with the recent Kashmir domicile law is going to be very unproductive for the resolution of bilateral disputes. Besides, continuous bashing by Indian politicians and its top leadership of Pakistani leaders are making things worse between the two states.

Read more: Pakistan welcomes joint statement by six human rights organisations on Kashmir

Although, dialogue is the only possible solution for the South Asian rivals, until and unless the Modi government revokes its controversial laws in Kashmir, the intensity of the conflict will grow. The situation of Kashmir is alarmingly moving towards a genocide, as pro-Pakistani sentiments among the locals continue to grow. Human development in these two countries will keep on suffering. Redefining priorities should be  the way forward for both the states, however, a sane leadership is required in India, specifically to prioritize human development and human security, instead of military might.

Minal Hussain is a freelance columnist. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.