The arrest of 17 Indian fishermen by the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency is yet another reminder of a longstanding issue that lies unresolved due to the Indian government’s lack of motivation for peaceful dialogue. The situation has been at an impasse for decades, although Pakistan has tried to resolve it on several occasions.
It is also ironic that Islamabad has been looking to find a way around these arrests that predominantly affect the poor in both countries, since more Indian fisherfolk are apprehended compared to their Pakistani counterparts. Pakistan possesses more resource-rich waters, which poverty-stricken fishermen are often forced to explore by the boat owners they rent their vessels from.
Pakistan has presented many solutions, from resolving the situation on the spot to capturing the boat instead of those that sail them. These lengthy incarcerations destroy entire families through legal formalities. Even those that are eventually released then become targets of their own intelligence agencies in India.
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The Sir Creek issue and the lack of a clearly settled border also ensures that the problem remains in flux. While the ceasefire is just a small step in the cessation of hostilities, it is also time for Delhi to war up to the idea of discussing outstanding issues, in the interest of preserving human rights.
Whether it is Kashmir or the Exclusive Economic Zones of the two states, it is clear that the countries can continue on the path of confrontation indefinitely, but it is the average citizen who suffers. This is why it is important for India and Pakistan to find peace through dialogue, something that Islamabad is always ready for. Delhi must also see the light.