The Hindu Editorial Vocabulary– Jan 27, 2022; Day 222
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Difficult Word/ PhraseContextual Sense
Cumbersome Difficult to handle
Downsize reduce in size
Conscious determined and intentional
Circuitous Deviating from a straight course
Charter A contract to hire or lease transportation
Reciprocal Concerning each of two or more persons or things; especially given or done in return
Accord Let have; give the right to; give the opportunity or permission to
Vet (medicine) provide (a person) with medical care
Fraught Marked by distress
Modicum A small, moderate or token amount

Keeping faith: On people-to-people initiatives and India-Pakistan ties

People-to-people initiatives can help build goodwill between India and Pakistan

At a time when most other India-Pakistan exchanges are suspended, even a simple proposal by the Pakistan Hindu Council, forwarded by Pakistan to India, to allow pilgrims of both countries to travel by air to avoid cumbersome (Difficult to handle) journeys seems a leap. Islamabad-Delhi ties now are possibly at their worst ever in peace times, with no political dialogue at a bilateral or multilateral level for over five years. After many terror attacks, India has stopped normal communications and cultural exchanges, and after the Government’s moves on Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan stopped all trade ties. Both sides have downsized (reduce in size) their diplomatic missions. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has ensured that the borders have been virtually sealed for two years, with few direct routes operating between them. Even the movement of pilgrims may have been cancelled but for the conscious (determined and intentional) attempt by the two governments to make an exception for faith-based travel — as was done for the Kartarpur corridor that came up in 2019, the same year the two countries nearly went to war over the Pulwama attack. Religious exchanges, of mainly Muslim pilgrims from Pakistan, and Hindus and Sikhs from India, are governed by a protocol signed in 1974, and allowed to continue.

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While the routes for Sikh pilgrims, from Indian Punjab to the Pakistani Punjab province, are relatively easy, hundreds of Indian and Pakistani pilgrims crossing over at the Wagah/Atari border to travel further to the Hinglaj Mata Mandir in Balochistan, the Paramhans Mandir in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Ajmer Sharif dargah in Rajasthan, the Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi and other such shrines, face more circuitous (Deviating from a straight course) routes. To avoid the extra time in travel, the Pakistan Hindu Council, which has now signed an MoU with Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to facilitate faith-based tour groups, has asked that PIA charters (A contract to hire or lease transportation) from Karachi and Lahore be allowed to fly direct to Indian cities this week, with a view to also allowing reciprocal (Concerning each of two or more persons or things; especially given or done in return) air charters from India. This would be the first time such air travel has taken place in years, and the first time ever that pilgrimages would be accorded (Let have; give the right to; give the opportunity or permission to) this facility. As pilgrim groups on both sides are vetted ((medicine) provide (a person) with medical care) before being allowed to travel, the precedent is unlikely to pose any additional security threat. In an atmosphere fraught (Marked by distress) with tensions, such people-to-people initiatives can only help build some modicum (A small, moderate or token amount) of goodwill. No evident harm to national interests has come from other such recent moves embarked on by the two governments, such as the LoC ceasefire announcement in February, or the decision to reopen the Kartarpur corridor in November, or the Government’s nod for cricket under the T20 World Cup as well as other sporting events. While the Government’s reflex position may be to deny the request, it may prove wiser to give the proposal some deliberate consideration.


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