NUCLEAR-ARMED NEIGHBOURS PAKISTAN AND INDIA SHOW SIGNS OF MENDING RELATIONS

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On Thursday 18 March, Pakistani military chief Qamar Javed Bajwa called on both Pakistan and India to “bury the past” and to move toward creating a stable, diplomatic relationship. The chief’s comments come one month after a 25 February ceasefire in the disputed Kashmir region. Bajwa blamed on-going disputes in Kashmir for “dragging the region back to the swamp of poverty and underdevelopment.” He stressed that it was time for the region to work at fighting challenges like hunger, illiteracy, and disease through “connectivity, peaceful co-existence and resource sharing”. Pakistan and India have been at odds for decades, fighting two of their three wars over the region of Kashmir. Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan but is claimed in its entirety by both nations. India has accused Pakistan’s military of backing separatist groups fighting against Indian control, while Pakistan accuses India of the suppression of the majority-Muslim Kashmiris. Tensions escalated in 2019 after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped Kashmir of its special status. There have been multiple instances of deadly clashes along the ‘Line of Control’ since this amendment to their status. Pakistan has called for India to reverse the 2019 decision and for a review of other administrative laws imposed by India. Although there have been moves towards easing tensions before, those initiating it in the past were civilian government leaders, whereas this time the initiative has come from Pakistan and India’s military leadership.

From a Christian perspective, both Pakistan and India have very small Christian populations, at 0.9% and 2%, respectively, according to the Joshua Project. In such Christian-minority nations, it is encouraging when someone in a position of power and influence like military chief Bajwa demonstrates characteristics of a “person of peace”. It offers renewed hope that decisive steps are being taken towards a more lasting peace in the region. The book of Acts mentions a “person of peace,” as being someone who shows signs of welcome toward those trying to spread the gospel, such a person is not necessarily a believer (or follower of Christ), but someone who demonstrates an openness and a peaceful approach.  Although there seems to be no Christian influence involved in the Pakistani military leader’s move, he is showing himself to be a man of peace and could potentially become a channel through which the Lord may work.  He has confronted Pakistani and Indian leaders with a new spirit, one in contrast to the norm in the region, and not expected from a military leader. For decades, the two nuclear-armed countries have demonstrated hostility towards one another, often accompanied by deadly military action. A period of greater peace and cooperation in the region could allow believers in the two nations to further demonstrate Christ’s character of peace and reconciliation to their neighbours who do not yet know Christ.

Please pray with us for the following:

  • For a committed response from the leadership of both countries towards peace and cooperation
  • For chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, that the spirit of peace within him will not be quenched
  • For chief Bajwa’s comments regarding peace to open both Pakistani’s and Indian’s minds to the possibility of peace, and that it may ultimately lead to an encounter with the Prince of Peace

 

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File photo: REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

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