File photo of Pakistan's PM Imran Khan with its Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa | @peaceforchange | Twitter
File photo of Pakistan's PM Imran Khan with Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa | @peaceforchange | Twitter
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Indians are incurable optimists. We got so euphoric when Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said “bury the past and move forward” that we glossed over his pointed assertion — “The Kashmir issue is at the heart of this.” Hopes of an enduring détente had already been raised in February when Indian and Pakistani armies decided to implement a ceasefire along the Line of Control.

Similarly, when Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan replied to PM Narendra Modi’s Pakistan Day greetings, saying that “the people of Pakistan also desire peaceful, cooperative relations with all neighbours including India,” we failed to take note of his caveat that “durable peace and stability in South Asia is contingent upon resolving all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, in particular the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.”

So, when Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) approved a proposal allowing the import of sugar, cotton and cotton yarn from India through land and sea routes, we took it for granted that the good old days of India-Pakistan bonhomie had returned. In fact, many said that Islamabad’s unprecedented peace gesture was a pragmatic decision, based on the realisation that animosity with its eastern neighbour was only harming Pakistan.

However, now that Pakistan’s federal cabinet has deferred the ECC’s decision on imports from India — with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi restating PM Imran Khan’s stance that “as long as India does not review the unilateral steps it took on August 5, 2019, normalising relations with India will not be possible” — it’s absolutely clear that Islamabad’s offer to mend fences with New Delhi was nothing but meaningless gibberish. What else explains its volte face within a matter of just a few days?


Also read: Bajwa’s change of heart on India isn’t enough. All of Pakistani military must be on board


Pakistan’s self-destructive mindset 

It thus emerges that General Bajwa’s bold call was just as fallacious as his predecessor General Raheel Sharif’s claim of Pakistan Army going after “terrorists of all hue and colour along with their abettors, financiers and sympathisers”. Former US President Donald Trump had aptly said that Pakistan, in return for all the financial aid it got, gave back “nothing but lies & deceit.” Hence, those disheartened by Islamabad’s volte face have only themselves to blame because they refuse to learn from past experiences.

It’s no secret that Pakistan’s Kashmir fixation is a self-destructive mindset that has served as a major impediment to its development and progress. An imaginary ‘existential’ threat from India that is being peddled by Rawalpindi allows the Pakistan Army to consume a lion’s share of the country’s budget, leaving precious little for infrastructural development and poverty alleviation. Former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s famous line — “we will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own [Atom bomb]” — gives a good insight into Pakistani leadership’s military obsession.

Due to the ban on commercial activities with India, Pakistan’s industries perforce have to rely on costlier imports from elsewhere, which makes their products dearer. Furthermore, while the Pakistani industry suffers, middlemen facilitating ‘unofficial’ India-Pakistan trade through third countries in the Middle East have a field day making huge profits, and this reality has even been accepted by the Imran Khan government. In December 2019, Dawn newspaper quoted Revenue Minister Hammad Azhar admitting that “the prevailing price hike, particularly the food inflation, emanated from suspension of trade with India and seasonal factors and the role of the middleman.”

In March 2021, two near-simultaneous events showed Pakistan’s skewed sense of priorities. On the one hand, National Health Service Secretary Aamir Ashraf Khawaja announced that there were no government plans to buy Covid-19 vaccines this year and that this devastating pandemic would be tackled through ‘herd immunity’ and donated vaccines. On the other hand, Pakistan Army was actively pursuing the $1.5 billion deal it had signed with Turkey in July 2018 for 30 Turkish-made helicopter gunships. The US, though, has now blocked the sale. So, while PM Khan is telling the world a sob story of how Pakistan doesn’t “have the money to spend on already overstretched health services, and to stop people from dying of hunger,” his army seems to be the least moved by the nation’s financial crisis and more concerned about increasing its already monstrous stockpile of military equipment.


Also read: Pakistan keeps making bad decisions with India. Its insecurity is hurting peace


Issues with Pakistan’s ‘precondition’

The first basic rule for successfully reviving any dialogue aimed at mending fences is avoidance of preconditions, especially if they are irrational. However, PM Khan’s insistence that New Delhi must restore Article 370 of the Indian Constitution — which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir — before Islamabad can consider normalisation of relations, is, to say the least, a fatuous demand for the following reasons:

  • Article 370 was incorporated in Part XXI of the Indian Constitution titled “Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions” and has no relation to or link with UN resolutions on J&K.
  • India is a sovereign nation and any Amendment to its Constitution is the sole and inviolable right of its democratically elected government. Hence, by calling it a “unilateral” decision, Islamabad is only making a laughing stock of itself.
  • Pakistan may consider abrogation of Article 370 to be “in flagrant violation of multiple Security Council [UNSC] resolutions, but by refusing to entertain Islamabad’s demand for directing New Delhi to restore the same, the UNSC and the international community have completely demolished Pakistan’s contrived narrative.
  • Soon after its abrogation, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had announced that “We have decided to take Kashmir case [regarding abrogation of Article 370] to the International Court of Justice [IJC].” He even stated that “(t)he decision was taken after considering all legal aspects.” Therefore, is not Pakistan’s failure to approach the ICJ on this issue an unambiguous admission of it being well aware of the fact that its contention is legally untenable?

Also read: Gen Bajwa wanted a ‘paradigm shift’ with India, but Pakistan military isn’t ready


The design is clear

Since the diplomatic corps of Pakistan is extremely competent, for Imran Khan to make such a humongous faux pas is inconceivable, but then, the Pakistan Army is infamous for dabbling in foreign affairs even when it has no flair for diplomacy. So, Islamabad’s embarrassing decision to backtrack on its much-hyped quest for peace with India by citing Article 370 abrogation issue as the sole reason is, in all probability, a decision that emanated from General Headquarters at Rawalpindi and not due to recommendations put forth by the Foreign Office in Islamabad.

In fact, while making his magnanimous “time to bury the past and move forward” comment, General Bajwa himself gave a clear hint regarding the vulnerability of any peace initiative with India. Readers may recall that his declaration was preceded by him mentioning that “without the resolution of Kashmir dispute…process of sub-continental rapprochement will always remain susceptible to derailment due to politically motivated bellicosity.” So, it’s not at all surprising that the 2021 peace initiative between the countries seems to have fizzled out even before the ink on the LoC ceasefire agreement could dry “due to politically motivated bellicosity” exhibited by Islamabad.

It’s difficult to say for certain whether General Bajwa’s prediction on India-Pakistan rapprochement faltering is merely coincidental. However, one thing is certain — over a period of time, mutually beneficial commercial activities and freer people-to-people contact between the two countries could dispel Rawalpindi’s narrative that seeks to demonise India. Pakistan Army draws its extra constitutional powers by portraying itself as the bulwark against India’s ‘hegemonic’ designs. Hence, any changes in public perception regarding India to the contrary will erode Rawalpindi’s power base, which Pakistan Army will never accept.

It’s no secret that Pakistan is a country where the legislature proposes while the army disposes. So, isn’t there a distinct possibility that General Bajwa making an irresistible “time to bury the past and move forward” offer and the military establishment’s ‘selected’ prime minister ensuring just the opposite by making restoration of Article 370 an obligatory pre-requisite for normalisation of relations, are part of a craftily orchestrated and novel plan to draw international attention to Kashmir issue once again?

Col Nilesh Kunwar is a retired Indian Army officer who has served in Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur. Views are personal. 

(Edited by Prashant Dixit)

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53 COMMENTS

  1. What the author has written ,is a biased analysis, both countries suffer due to unresolved kashmir dispute .westerns never allow to resolves the historic long pending issue because of their industrial and economical interests in Asia.I feel both India and Pakistan needs statesman to end this dispute amicably and defeat the western interests in the region and save their countrymen interests.

  2. Pakistan is a nation that has been founded by the whims and ego of Jinna based on the hatred to the Hindus.
    Pakistani army that hold the supreme power in Pakistan directly or indirectly, and bear the grudge of losing to the Indian army in the four wars has proven detrimental to the economic health of their own country. It is more a force that is concerned with pampering and fattening themselves at the cost of the prosperity of their own nation.
    First, they do not want normalisation of relations with India in order to keep themselves relevant and siphon off a big chunk of public exchequer to prosper themselves. They are blind to see where money will come without economic development.
    In order to uphold their agenda they control the media and the teaching institution. Media is ridiculously made to portray India as a Hindu country in which oppressions are heaped on the Muslims. Educational institutions are made to project Hindus as Kafirs and abominable.
    Even while Indian Muslims , a population bigger than the Pak population, thanks to their sound economic condition and comfortable position, thumb their nose at the vain and queer concern of the Pak media, the Pak media is coerced to show the condition of Indian Muslims as poor and tormented by Hindus in India, all in order to vindicate the Two Nation Theory . On the contrary Pakistan could not grant even a sound social status to those who migrated to Pakistan and they are still Mohajirs.
    Educational institutions are made to teach a distorted version of history to poison their mind against India in general and Hindus in particular. This is done to fuel fundamentalism borne out of this hatred and raise fundamentalists, terrorists and mercenaries to be used as cheap weapons. Foolishly, the Pak army thinks that India can be brought to its knees by these forces.
    Using media and educational institutions, the Pak army wants to continue the hatred towards India and Hindus.
    Even judiciary is not free from the dominance of the army.
    But Pakistan is being immensely harmed by the stubborn and obsessive stand.
    Where there is fundamentalism, ruling the roost, there cannot be an inflow of the foreign investment, direct or portfolio. The succour obtained from the USA was diverted to terror funding and weapon purchase. Pakistan has such a notorious image of a breeding ground of terrorism, that no foreign company will desire to do business in Pakistan. Even the Islamic countries, Pakistan once counted upon, have now refused to extend moral, strategic and financial support.
    Even if the Pak government wants to take some economically sound decision, the army forces it to withdraw the decision and revert back to its stubborn stand. The scenario and plight of an almost bankrupt country clearly shows that it was not partition but isolation of Pakistan in 1947.
    India and its economy are big enough to give a damn to conditional relationship and business with Pakistan. It is Pakistan and not India who is in need of the bilateral ties and business between the two countries.
    If Pakistan has to tide over the economic spiral down-slide, it will have to shun fundamentalism and its anti-Indian stand . It will have to be secular and economically pragmatic in its policies. And last but not the least Pak army will have to be proportionate in its role just as its Indian counterpart.

  3. How pathetic is that to read title “Optimistic Indians failed to read it”. Go to hell you rascal.

  4. Former US President Donald Trump had said that, Pakistan, in return for all the financial aid it got from USA over the years, gave back “nothing but lies & deceit”

    In other words, he simply meant that Pakistan is nothing but a treacherous crocodile.

    We, Indians are not that short sighted to believe in those fake good will gestures from Pakistan.

    We know you Pakistanis, we know you very well….. and your doctrine.

    Some day, we civilised forces, will destroy all your Jihadist setups of all types.

  5. With due respect to you sir, Indians were always sceptical about this so called ceasefire and new beginning. Rather Pakistanis were much more optimistic about it. For far too long, we have seen the mischives of Pakistanis and it’s not going to change in near future. Please dont put someone’s paid agenda as words of Indian people. We dont trust Pakistan.

  6. These retired military men wasted & destroyed both nations while in service & will continue to create mayhem in retirement.

    Kashmir issue should have been solved in 1948 , If lovely & prosperous Punjab & Bengal could be bifurcated so what was so special about Kashmir that 70 + years were wasted. Even today finding some solution and then to have an integrated sub-continent from Kabul to Assam should be the objective otherwise both companies would keep on running after the Big Powers to attack each other…………forever !!!!

  7. It’s wrong to think any single Indian had any doubts about the real intentions of pakistani establishment. As any other covert or overt gestures before, we all know that Pakistan is a mischievous country with no desire or design to leave it’s Kashmir obsession. Let them twist, distort or articulate any peace gesture, none of us has any illusions about their true intentions.

    • It is the media, who try to sensationalize any issue, that created an illusion. I do not think any right minded citizen who read the news thought that the Indo Pak relations is at a turning point.

  8. New generation of Indians need to engrave on the minds that Pakistan will chea t India at the earliest opportunity. So for at least one thousand years Indians should never ever believe Pakistanis.

  9. You have been constantly posting negative remarks on your own country. Funding ke liye desh bech doge tumlog. Mana yaha sabkuchh sahi nahi hai but tum toh bilkul bhi sahi nahi ho. Sudhar jao.

  10. They are hitting there own leg let them lots of Indian imports are routed through middle East at hefty profits may be too Pak politicians Imran & PAK are at self destruction mode so let them be

  11. Hopefully, India has not fallen into the crocodile tear or smile let out recently. While the whole of india didn’t take Bajwa’s utterings as genuine, but if the government has taken it seriously as a positive note and don’t give damn to Pakistan, they still haven’t learnt the lesson. If this is the way they are getting excited at Pak’s behest, how is our chance of provocation by china on showing milk chocolate? Hope India don’t fall into traps and play a well thought out game

  12. Col. Nilesh kumar , uncle tum khud kyu ni chale jaate pakistan if bajwa was so fine. Or ye the print ka HQ bhi Islamabad m khol lena ISI fund bhi kr dega “Ghr k bhedi”.

  13. Unfortunately, there are quite a many short sighted and optimistic Indians, I for one have interacted with Pakis in the Gulf for years and am fully aware of their mind set towards India. It would be thus absolutely foolish for India to drop it’s guard with Pakistan and believe in their overtures.

  14. The only final solution India should implement is
    Is the Bangladesh solution ie create independent
    Balochistan, sindhustan and Faktunistan from
    The North west provinces.These states have realized
    The enormous inequity faced by them at the hands of the ruling elite of the Pakistani establishment. So
    The pakistani army also is facing internal dissent
    Mainly from the soldiers who are drawn from
    These areas and they want equitable sharing of wealth and peace as their children are in the line of fire when there is a conflict with ndia and they seem to be loosing lucrative jobs in middle east due to lack of education etc,and lot of younger manual labour are going to gulf for construction work and over later 5 years the number of soldiers recruited by the Pakistan army has fallen by 22%.so instead of listening to the platitudes of The pak establishment, turn the screws on as no gulf country is financially willing to extend any donations to pak due to their own economic
    Worries.

  15. Ruler of Pakistan always get haullicination about Indian tertories whether it is Kashmir, Junagadh or Hyderabad. Here one important thing is to be noted that ruler means cliques who has actual power(read army). They don’t care about people of India , specially muslims. They also don’t care about people of Pakistan as well. They want to overflow their own pockets.
    Dr. Ashwin I Mehta

  16. It’s a blessing in disguise. Even if Pakistan would buy sugar cotton etc they cannot make friendship. One they they are sure to stab at our back

  17. The only way out for friendship and peace between India and Pakistan is to accept and formalise the status quo on J &K.If the two countries are rally concerned about this unfortunate region they can form a joint commission onJ&K for its all round development and ensure basic human and democratic rights to both,the Pakistan and India controlled Kashmir.
    Forget it, at least for the sake of experiment for 20 years and establish very good relations being the closest neighbours with shared borders ,history,language and culture. Confidence not the Kashmir is the real issue.Unforunately we are yet to have
    very bold,forward looking and committed
    leadership in oth the countries which could
    break the stalemate and begins new chapter.

  18. Pakistani’s always hide a knife in a bouquet. India should realise this folly and always be extra vigilant when it comes to Pakistan. When Pakistan wants or talks of peace they are in truth preparing to wage war.
    It brings to mind our former prime minister Manmohan Singh. Pakistan will come and carry out terror attacks on India and the former PM will parrot on national television ‘ no one can attack us’

  19. Pakistan’s peace offer to India is well articulated. Pakistan’s now looks confident of its recent tactical gains in Afghanistan so as to claim its share of power and role in West Asia forgetting the prevailing Taliban threat. Imran Khan took a U turn in not to import cotton and sugar from India, which he himself had signed, after his Foreign Minister Shah insisted that dialogue with India cannot be revived until India withdraws its decision to abrogate Article 370.Pakistan and it’s national security community still dreams that India can be forced into reversing Article 370 decision is still a possibility. Pakistan should realize that India is no more that of the 20th Century – It’s now Modi’s Govt who does not believe in taking U turns. It is a known secret in Pakistan that the legislature proposes while the Army disposes.

  20. Pakistan’s peace offer to India has been very well articulated by the author in great detail. Pakistan’s now looks confident of its recent tactical gains in Afghanistan so as to claim its share of power and role in West Asia forgetting the prevailing Taliban threat. Imran Khan took a U turn in not to import cotton and sugar from India, which he himself had signed, after his Foreign Minister Shah insisted that dialogue with India cannot be revived until India withdraws its decision to abrogate Article 370.Pakistan and it’s national security community still dreams that India can be forced into reversing Article 370 decision is still a possibility ! Pakistan should realize that India is no more that of the 20th Century – It’s now Modi’s Govt who does not believe in U turns . It is a known secret in Pakistan that the legislature proposes while the Army disposes.

  21. We have to understand that it’s the same Pakistan which has adopted the policy “to bleed India by thousand cuts” after the bigurcation of Bangladesh. We have also to understand that it’s the same Pakistan which was “prepared to eat grass or even go hungry” as per Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The prophecy made by Bhutto has almost come true today, Pakistan, due to its own policy to see itself as “equal” to its eastern neighbour, has reached the stage where Pakistanis have to really eat grass or even to go hungry. But, it’s not that easy for Pakistan to set the clock back after seven decades of animosity with India. Unless there is a course correction made early by Pakistan, it would be progressing on its path to self annihilate.

    • How does this author assume that Pakistan,s peace overtures were received with great warmth here and people went gaga only to be deceived the very next day. One can say with conviction that the only Indians who went gaga were the lotus eating pacifists and their candle carrying idiots, who will surely want the Indian Govt to proceed with the talks . India can certainly export its surplus sugar and cotton to any country that wants it. Nobody here is going to lose sleep over some lost piddly trade opportunity .

  22. Ye Pakistan wake gadhe hai. Khane ke liye bhikhari hai..
    So not right such big arrivals . We are fool writing such big arrivals for these z class Pakistanis. Unko unke bhangaar haap PW child do. Unko vahi lakyi hai.

  23. Indian public never want good relation with Pakistan
    All mess created in india by
    India muslims.take a chart of crime in any part of India
    You will find all names are
    Muslim.if it small crim of big
    Unless and until Islam is eradicated from this world no country will live peaceful.

    • Are you leaving in paradise you don’t know the condition of rural and urban peoples they are leaving in distress their lives have become miserable and in crime and corruption you are top of the list and looting of Indian wealth you are the no one and inspite of these qualities you are having blaming the Indian Muslim’s nothing to say more other wise……..

  24. If Pakistan army wants to accumulate weapons by keeping its people hungry and it’s economy in tatters, it is what is chosen and accepted by them. Indians are generally peace loving and try to see something positive in bettering the general living standards of the world.
    But horses can only be taken to the pond but can’t be forced to drink.

  25. I am born in 1951 . My feeling is,any country,in particular,pakistan,is a unsecular will destroy, self.
    A small percentage say less than 5pct of the population, who are in monopaly of politics, military and economic activity,plus the religious FANATICS are eating the FLESH OF POOR AND WORKING CLASS VAST MAJORITY.

    Ihave interacted with FOUNDRY INDUSTRY ,guys from Pakistan,a decade back and they remarked then *YOU ARE SUCH AN OPEN SOCIETY* The occasion was world foundry congress meet then.

    I pray god ,to enrich pakistan youth to raise to the occassion and throw the miltary / crooked political rule and realise the happiness of being WORLD IS FLAT and what Bharath says, VASUDEVA KUTUBAKAM,
    THEY WILL GROW AND COME OUT OF HUNGER IF THEY ADAPT THE ABOVE POLICY.
    GOD BLESS THE PAKISTAN

  26. Pakistan’s offer was never taken seriously here , the people who matter exactly knew that the offer is primarily to overcome the worldwide isolation and also to come out of the FATF grey list.

    India, except for peace at the LOC is not at all keen to talk to Pakistan, it would rather allow Pakistan go down the drain ,both economically and politically, and ensure if at all we talk it would bring so much of differentiation that , Pakistan will have no chips to play

  27. Stop this rubbish about Pakistan and its generals and sending some onions and tomatoes. We are not interested in the fine print. We are busy about handing our own affairs.

  28. Stop justifying Pakistan’s stupidity.liberals are in constant dogma of Amman ki assa which will lead us to where. utterly stupid

  29. With the kind of mentality India and Pakistan kept the enmity rolling for is not the mentality they can expect to bring peace to them. They must think of some out of box solutions and mentality to bring an end to the darkness and poverty in the subcontinent. Hope some sense prevails there.

  30. It is should make it clear to Pakistan that we are interested in peaceful co exitence but no discussion will be entertained on Kashmir at any time.

  31. Its a really very good article. India should show give cold shoulder if any step taken by Pakistan is linked to Jammu and Kashmir. As long as Pakistan is fixated on Jammu and Kashmir, no normalization with India can happen. Pakistan should be left to its luck which is on a downward path since the 1970s. Probably Pakistan will come to senses only when goes down enough so that it gets entangled in its internal matters.

  32. Print is jumping the guns. Indians were neither disappointed when Pakistan stopped trade on revocation of article 370 nor they were euphoric when they announced the resumption. So U turn was not a major event for Indians. It was a major disappointment for their Textile industries and sugar consumers as now they will end up paying very high price for both these items.

  33. Let the peoples representatives of Gilgit-Baltistan and POK decide whether they want to re-join with Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir of India or KPK and Punjab of Pakistan. Others do not have any peoples mandate to interfere.

  34. Looking at the history of past 70 years after partition or 1200 years before partition, there cannot be any doubt Pakistan is an enemy nation. Simple!! Our culture has absolutely no similarities with their culture. The faster this is accepted better it is. We can move on with clear roadmap. There is no need to restart dialogue or people to people contact it was never there in the first place. All we need is good strong security apparatus at our borders to repel the constant attacks from across the border, answer with 100 bullets for 1 coming from there, target 10 times their civilian population as they do from their side. Lastly stop putting some romantic and intellectual gloss like bonhomie and bhaichara between us and them. Pakistan is like heavy bolder tossed in waters it has to only sink. Stay away and let it go down.

  35. I gasped with disbelief at Pakistan’s peace overture. But before I could gain my breath, Pakistan showed its true colors. Now I can breathe easy…😇

  36. hope people read about the lenders to pakistan views ; nobody including china wants pakistan to start a war with india. so when they go back their money bags will disappear and that will push their economy into down spiral for civil unrest

  37. Art 370 is done. So unless Pakistan accepts the fait accompli, nothing can move ahead between the two countries. So at the best, limited period ceasefire is possible and this can be repeated periodically, as it convenient to both the armies. That’s it and we should not bother anything to achieve beyond this. We do not have to worry about economy of Pakistan or it has no funds to buy Covid vaccine but can buy helicopters. Pakistan has different logic and rational for doing what they are doing. Jut take care of border and be ready anytime.

  38. Most comments on any social media platforms, took the so called peace initiative with a bucket of salt…. The reactions ranged from Skeptical to aghast at the mere suggestion of pak peace…. Maybe a handful of non – real people sitting mostly Delhi around the 10 Janpanth area may have imagined being in the garden of Eden with the pakistan’s…

  39. Glossing Over Paki Peace Initiative Was A Media Hype.It Did Not Come As A Surprise to Indian Intellectuals U Turn Behaviour Of Drunken Monkey Like Generals.

  40. I don’t think anyone in India who matters took Gen Bajwa’s offer of peace so seriously as to feel disappointed! It is well known that Pakistan takes one step forward and two steps backwards. Modi merely returned courtesy by writing to IK on Pakistan national day. Nothing is lost for India.

    No government of India irrespective of political hue will discuss Kashmir with Pakistan. Especially now that Kashmir has been fully integrated with India, As long as Pakistan tries to like peace, trade etc to Kashmir, there will be no return to negotiation table. Indian part of Kashmir is none of the business of Pakistan. Only that part of Kashmir which is held by Pakistan can be discussed.

    • Now that the CPEC route is going through the province of Gilgit Balistan, any one who thinks that its up for discussion is living in a fools paradise. though talking about it is useful to get daft masses to go and vote. its been 7 years and not an inch is recovered….

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