Picking low hanging fruits

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How Pakistan and India should go about it

 

Pakistan and India have at last managed to pull off a minor diplomatic coup, as the foreign secretaries of both countries met in Islamabad earlier in March and agreed to work on “finding common ground and narrowing differences”.

Although Indian media dubbed the Indian foreign secretary’s visit to Pakistan as part of his ‘SAARC yatra’, it may still prove to be an icebreaker for future bilateral developments. However, as nothing substantial was on the agenda, it turned out to be more of a hello-hi kind of a meeting.

In the jargon of The Times, “both of the foreign secretaries (FSs) played up modest convergences and downplayed significant divergences”.

In the jargon of The Times, “both of the foreign secretaries (FSs) played up modest convergences and downplayed significant divergences”

This may be termed as the most appropriate approach when dealing with issues involving Pakistan and India, if both the countries are actually serious about resolving their long piled-up outstanding problems.

In his meeting with the Indian foreign secretary, the prime minister of Pakistan reiterated, “Both countries need to start a new chapter in their relationship by working towards resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue… we must think together, act together and move forward with the spirit of bringing the two nations closer to each other”.

So what lies ahead and how and why both countries should go about it? As a matter of fact, there are some do’s and don’ts in Pakistan-India’s critical nature of relationship. Both the countries must forget about the don’ts for the time being and concentrate on the do’s, as Shivam Vij puts it in his recently published article that “picking some low hanging fruits should be easy”.

Once the smaller issues have been taken care of, both countries would have greater trust to go for resolving bigger issues and this is what we call “confidence building measures”.

Shivam writes that such start-up issues may include operationalising an already signed new visa regime, India selling some token electricity to Pakistan, getting Pakistan to reciprocate India’s “Most Favoured Nation” status for greater trade ties, and easing trade across the Line of Control.

Pakistan can’t go from looking like a war-torn African country to resembling Turkey without pursuing peace with India

Talking about the Indian gains, Shivam says that “Currently India’s biggest Unique Selling Proposition (USP) before the world is its economic potential, its large market and trade opportunities. Pursuing peace with Pakistan would give India another USP: that of a country with, “long-term strategic thinking and direction”. Trade ties with Pakistan, and through it, with Central Asia, would bring great benefits to the Indian economy too.”

Since real peace brings a win-win situation, Pakistan would also gain. Shivam writes that Pakistan is lucky to have an amazing strategic location on the world map when it comes to trade. Instead of indulging in conflicts, a Pakistan at peace with its neighbours will be able to pursue economic progress.

Pakistan can’t go from looking like a war-torn African country to resembling Turkey without pursuing peace with India. Bargaining terrorism is a zero sum game for both sides. India and Pakistan need to bargain trade and investment instead.

None of the above-mentioned initiatives are a pipe-dream. A few years back no one would have ever imagined that Pakistan and India would be trading by road through the Wagah-Attari border, but it did materialise.

Working on cementing the trade and investment relationship, Pakistan and India would certainly develop interdependence through each other’s resources and markets. A relationship based on mutual economic interest would always be long-lasting and keep on generating more opportunities, as it has been seen in other regions across the globe.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I would like to see peace between India and Pakistan. But the reality is that India is never going to give up Kashmir.And if pakistan wants to keep what it have now then it must try to make peace with India. Bringing seperatists in the meetings and use of terrorism tool in India will end the talks for a long time. This is just a watse of time, these taks…..!!!

  2. Problem with this narrative is that Pakistan is still not doing anything against the terrorist groups that target India. There can be no trade or people movement between the two countries until Pakistan forsakes its Jihadi policies for ever. The economies of central asia are not really important and in any case India has other ways of trading with them through Russia or Iran. Having Turkey as a role model does not help as Turkey is as undemocratic and as big a basket case as Pakistan.

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