Model neighbours


Why can’t Pakistan replicate Indo-China ‘model’ friendship?

Can once warring neighbours forget the past and take a firm step towards friendship? The question has been asked in the context of the ever-tussling South Asian countries, especially Pakistan. The answer has been delivered by the region’s two biggest countries. India and China have issued a joint statement declaring that, “Over the years, India and China have evolved an effective model of friendly coexistence and common development, which can be an example for relations between big, neighbouring countries.” With the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang visiting Indian Premier Manmohan Singh, the two countries issued a wide-ranging 35-paragraph joint statement, which included “economic cooperation,” expanding joint military exercises and encouraging the teaching of each other’s languages.

But two parts of the statement have significant bearing on Pakistan. One, the joint statement played down the 20-day confrontation in Ladakh which ended earlier in May, when India accused Chinese troops of pitching a clutch of tents on their side of the Line of Actual Control. It referred to the “existing mechanisms agreed in 1993 proving their worth,” a model that suggests that a similar arrangement could be made by Pakistan with both Afghanistan and India, especially since the last border skirmishes with the former are continuing to have their after effects. Two, both countries agreed to support “an ‘Afghan-led, Afghan-owned’ reconciliation process” to achieve peace, stability, independence and development in Afghanistan. It points to a regional consensus where the role of the security establishment will need to diminish to enter the new phase of diplomacy in South Asia.

Perhaps, cynics would take the statement must be taken with a pinch of salt: how could the two countries with an outstanding border dispute and recent border confrontations call themselves “model neighbours”? But then that is the point. Foreign relations can be counter-intuitive. The fact that disputes shall remain outstanding between two sovereign states is a given. India has some with China, Pakistan has some with India, Afghanistan has some with Pakistan, China has some with Pakistan, and so the circle continues to go on. The point to be realised is that the negotiations in these disputes should continue on the negotiating table, and there should be no war-mongering for pieces of land. There can be nothing more encouraging for Pakistan than to see the two countries it borders calling each other “model neighbours” despite having fought a full-scale war in the early 1960s. The writing is there on the wall. The future lies in cultivating friendships, and no enmity lasts forever. If Pakistan fails to read it, it risks isolating itself. One hopes that the security establishment and the new Sharif government will draw the right lessons. If elected governments must have the final say over foreign relations, perhaps one day India and Pakistan shall also declare each other “model neighbours.” Surely it is a noble hope.


  1. Very good article. Enimity wont give any thing. Pakistan can resonate india-china relation ship. Articles like this will open the doors for younger generations to think in a new way.

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