Covid offers India-Pakistan a chance to fight common enemy, bury hostility over Kashmir

Both India and Pakistan are engaged in a grim battle to prevent the coronavirus pandemic from affecting their citizens on a mass scale. But this crisis also offers the two countries an opportunity to review their strategies and commence negotiations to cease hostilities, and arrive at a ‘maintenance of status quo’ agreement with respect to ‘unsettled borders’.

India and Pakistan’s grossly inadequate medicare infrastructure, both in terms of quantity and quality, can bring about a catastrophe for their poor populations. Amid such a crisis, it’s a concern then that both nations continue engaging in a conflict along the Line of Control driven by primordial perceptions and perceived ownership of Kashmir.

With the onset of summer, the “campaigning season” in Jammu and Kashmir, ceasefire violations both north and south of Pir Panjal Range have increased manifold. “Fire fights” between troops manning the LoC and encounters with infiltrating terrorists since the beginning of April have caused a number of casualties on both sides. Both countries must respond to French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for a worldwide ceasefire, days after UN Secretary-General António Guterres made a similar appeal.

Despite four conventional wars — 1947-48, 1965, 1971 and 1999 — and 30 years of low-intensity conflict in Jammu and Kashmir, neither India nor Pakistan has decisively been able to achieve its political aims. Their current security strategies are offering diminishing returns. And so, can the threat of a common enemy — Covid-19 — make the two countries review their political aims and military strategies and pave the way for a rapprochement?

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