After the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, there is hardly any other event that evoked so much enthusiasm among peaceniks across the globe as the recent summit between arch rivals North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. It is hailed as one of the most thoughtful developments in securing peace in the Korean peninsula. The event assumes special significance as the peninsula was being pushed to the vortex of a nuclear war. Ever since Kim Jong-un became the President of North Korea in 2011, he was indulging in war-mongering. His flexing the muscles took an ominous turn with Donald Trump becoming the President of the United States of America. Their war of words brought the world to the edge of a nuclear war with North Korea testing missiles of varying nuclear capabilities. The Kim-Moon summit and the subsequent joint declaration should be seen in this context.
Kim’s sweeping promise to “put an end to the history of confrontation” and the joint statement to work for a nuclear-free peninsula have come as a great relief not only to the region but to the entire world. Kim’s statement “we are at a starting line today, where a new history of peace, prosperity and inter-Korean relations is being written” should warm the cockles of many hearts. The ripples created by the momentous declaration are yet to subside. But the fact that Kim took a U-turn towards initiating peace process only after putting his country’s nuclear capability in place makes people sceptic over his intentions and the success of the promises made by him.
Whatever be the end result of Kim-Moon meet, India and Pakistan can take a leaf out of their summit book. There is something Delhi and Islamabad can learn from the unfolding of new vistas between Seoul and Pyongyang. Though there are more differences than similarities between the situations in the peninsula and the subcontinent, one cannot fail to see the compelling reasons for India and Pakistan to follow in the Korean footsteps. Just as both Koreas are under the shadow of a nuclear threat, the neighbours in the sub-continent too face the same catastrophic situation. If things are allowed to go out of hands, the survival of both the rivals is in great danger.
Ground reports suggest that people of the two peninsular countries and the sub-continental nations want peace, not war. With North Koreans living in destitution under a tyrannical regime facing many UN-imposed blockades, they are ardent supporters of a peaceful solution in the peninsula. Similarly, people of India and Pakistan are eager to have permanent peace which would lead to open border, greater economic cooperation and no violent activities from across the border. The Army in Pakistan is the greatest hurdle in the process as a ‘war-like’ situation between the two nations gives scope for its top echelons to make hay while the sun shines. Peaceful co-existence between the neighbours pays while tension-ridden border does no good to either parties. The same is true with India’s relations with China. Hence it is time to turn a new leaf in India-Pakistan and India-China ties like the two Koreas did.(Published on 07th May 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 19)