“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” – Dalai Lama XIV
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“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” – John F Kennedy
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When we talk of the Silk Road continent, we are talking of a contiguous landmass comprising of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Together, they represent 24.65% of the total land area of the world and nearly 49% of the world population.
History has shown that the peace in the Silk Road continent is prerequisite for progress and prosperity in large parts of the world.
Currently there are several situations in motion in the Silk Road continent that are injurious in varying degrees to the peace in their immediate neighbourhoods, and by default, the progress and prosperity in the world.
Here is the brief description of some of them:
After seventeen years of massive drainage of human and material resources, the USA has finally started talking directly to the Taliban.
This conflict is representative of the clash of contrasts – the largest and most powerful war machine of the world sitting down for talks with a ragtag band of fighters. This could have been done more than a decade ago.
Despite the full compliance with the nuclear deal, Iran is being goaded into some kind of reckless action. Whatever justification is being offered, is rather flimsy and arbitrary.
There are the attempts to induce regime collapse without understanding or caring for the consequences.
The simmering tension between India and Pakistan has risen quite close to the boiling point. As demonstrated by the recent events, one side has said and done everything that may lead to peace while the other side has created the atmosphere for direct clash.
China is being systematically provoked with the clear purpose of drawing it into a hostile situation. With the wisdom gathered over centuries the Chinese leadership has so far avoided the bait.
Russia has risen from the ashes. Facing the debris of broken promises of the west and the relentless attempts to surround it from all sides, Russia has devised a mechanism that involves lots of diplomacy at all times and the minimum use of force where absolutely necessary.
Turkey has been repeatedly drawn into the situations that it did not create but has to deal with somehow. The resourceful leadership of Turkey keeps finding its way out of those situations.
Despite the very different backgrounds of these situations and the diversity of elements in their structure, there are some common strands.
The most prominent is the confidence of one side on their own might and ability when deciding to heat up the situation. As the conflict gets in motion, the confidence seems rather misplaced and the ability comes under question at every step. This is mainly because when triggering a conflict situation, it is always impossible to foresee all the small and dissimilar outcomes that will collectively define the end result. In other words, it is possible to start a conflict but it is usually not possible to end it without going to the negotiation table.
The short-term political gains at home are sometimes the driving force for the clash with a foreign country. In this area, the media is not just reporting the events; it is increasingly acquiring the role of shaping them.
Another common element in these situations is that we are living in the era of manufactured realities and engineered perceptions. Bombarded with angled stories and slick rhetoric, we are easily swayed by whoever has the ability to reach our TV, computer, and smartphone screens.
A byproduct of this artificial creation of realities and perceptions is that we are deprived of an unfiltered view of the truth.
Consequently, it becomes necessary to pause and reflect: Who is hurting peace and who is trying to protect it; who is speeding toward conflict and who is advocating harmonious settlement of issues; who is for war and who is for peace — these are the indicators that spell the difference between the great statesmanship and populist leadership.
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It is important to underline that the destinies of the people in the Silk Road continent are interlinked.
Not just the destinies, the economies are also interlinked. The absence of peace, or the presence of an ailing and infected peace, creates bottlenecks in the economic growth. The heart of the economy cannot pump at full capacity if the arteries are clogged.
History is witness to the fact that economic prosperity only prevailed in the Silk Road continent during the periods of peace and stability. The zone of peace is the zone of prosperity.
It is equally important to bear in mind that peace is joint responsibility. It is because of the reason that peace is very fragile in nature. There is no such thing as robust peace. Peace is capricious and flighty. It needs collective and persistent work to acquire and maintain peace. But the rewards of lasting peace are so enormous that everyone must contribute to it.
There is also the need to keep in view the limitation of languages. In most of the languages, there is just one word to describe peace; there are no fully interchangeable synonyms.
Stephen Killelea, the Australian IT entrepreneur and founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace, a global think tank, says: We’ve got one word for Peace…. We don’t have enough words to accurately describe all the different types of peace. I think it was Socrates who once said if you don’t have a word to describe something, then how can you think about it?”
Let’s think about it [somehow] – Peace in the Silk Road Continent. /// nCa, 4 March 2019