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India and Pakistan: trade without compromise




PM Modi, in the greatest courtesy, expressed concern and best wishes for a speedy recovery when reports of PM Imran Khan contracting Covid -19 emerged. (Photo source: Reuters)

By Amb Anil Trigunayat,

The fundamental problem between India and Pakistan is the excessive verbosity displayed even when a small step is taken either to normalize relations or to reduce them. This is exactly what happened when Pakistan earlier decided to allow imports of Indian sugar, cotton and cotton yarn across land and sea borders after they were suspended in 2019 due to the relationship. bilateral that hit rock bottom. But days later, the ECC’s decision, which might not have been decided without Prime Minister Imran Khan’s approval of the import deal, was overturned at the Cabinet meeting. , which he himself chaired. It is evident that although the earlier decision was made on the basis of economic necessity, the latter followed after the fact, as it appeared to have given an imaginary PR advantage to rival India. Therefore, the change of mind was formulated in the standard traditional hobby and fixation called J&K. This time the initiative was canceled until India rolled back its 2019 Art 370 repeal. This vessel has sailed. Well this is not happening so we will continue to witness the Kaikeyi attitude in Kopgrah and extremists on both sides will have the last laugh again and the relationship may remain accident prone as in the past.

Although there has been a lot of informed and uninformed media commentary in India and Pakistan and elsewhere on this about-face by Indian spokesperson for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government, Arindam Bagchi, during his first briefing. press, cleverly dropped the question, stating that we are not right. who you should direct your question to. For India it was nice to have but not necessary. The optic could have worked like a CBM.

A study by Afaq Hussain and Nikita Singla Unilateral Decisions Bilateral Losses elaborated on the lost opportunity cost due to the suspension of LoC trade, MFN withdrawal and tariff increases and the closure of airspace in due to the tense situation between Delhi and Islamabad. He says Indo-Pak cross-border trade in 2008-19 amounted to over Rs 7,500 Crores and generated over 170,000 new jobs on both sides in border areas which often witness indiscriminate shelling, confirming clearly the dividends of peace. He further concludes that if direct bilateral trade has hovered around $ 2.6 billion, the potential could exceed $ 37 billion, which will be mutually beneficial given the geographic interdependence of industry and commodities. two sides. It is a known fact that while gypsum, cement and rock salt provide Pakistan an advantage in sugar and cotton yarns and pharmaceuticals, India has a definite advantage and can meet Islamabads requirement easily. and competitively. While SAARC remained delayed due to policy failure in the region, SAFTA arrangements continued. In addition to the efforts of Indian PMs to continue to gain the support of ASACR leaders in a joint fight against Covid 19 and vaccine sharing, as well as to create region-wide mechanisms in South Asia, it is instructive that countries in the region can work together when faced with calamity. . When we talk about global solidarity, all the countries in the region are the main and integral part of the chain. Let us not forget that the pandemic and terrorism know no borders and that a common and sincere fight against them is therefore a precondition.

Much more could be done if things were normal. However, P2P connect, cultural exchanges, including the lifting of bans on films and artists, humanitarian and medical assistance, religious pilgrimage, sport and cricket, and disaster management must be prioritized at all times. because they have the potential to bridge policy gaps. As such, the two countries have regularly exchanged lists of prisoners and nuclear facilities and have recently worked on the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor as well as the dialogue on water sharing regardless of the state of bilateral relations. .

Recently, after a partial relaxation of the Sino-Indian impasse and under the pressure and persuasion of several of their friends in the Gulf and the West, Pakistani civilian and military leaders have made reasonable statements which tend to indicate that ‘ some form of thaw and formalities dialogue between Delhi and Islamabad was likely. The joint statement confirming the 2003 ceasefire agreement was a welcome development. General Bajwa, it seems, would like to bury the past and has stated bluntly that Pakistan is ready to improve our environment by resolving all our outstanding issues with our neighbors through dialogue in a dignified and peaceful manner. A stable Indo-Pakistani relationship is essential to unlock the untapped potential of South and Central Asia by ensuring connectivity between East and West Asia. So true! But the unofficial lines of dialogue have a long way to go.

PM Modi, in the greatest courtesy, expressed concern and best wishes for a speedy recovery when reports of PM Imran Khan contracting Covid -19 emerged. He also congratulated the Pakistani people on Pakistan Day in a letter to his counterpart. Prime Minister Imran Khan also responded by thanking the Indian Prime Minister for the greetings, but predicting peace and dialogue on resolving several issues, including J&K. Nothing new as bilateral institutional mechanisms were already in place years ago, providing for discussions on all issues in accordance with the Shimla Accord and the Lahore Declaration, among others. However, since Islamabad has refused to take credible action against terrorist groups operating against India from its soil and has not renounced its policy of supporting and sponsoring jihadist formations engaged in cross-border terrorism, India insisted that the talks and the terror cannot continue and that this remains the definition to double. How would the two align geo-economics with security concerns?

Both sides have remained steadfast in their inflexible positions, hence the futility of the dialogue is evident. But there is always gray in the shades of black and white. It has been speculated that the two foreign ministers or their senior officials could meet in Dushanbe on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan. It is not uncommon to be sidelined at multilateral conferences and it has happened at the highest level before. But this time, according to the spokesperson for the MEA, no meeting has taken place to his knowledge. Pakistani FM Qureshi fled to the heights with If India takes one step, we will take two. Some argue that, since no discussion took place, Pakistan had to show its displeasure by overturning the decision to import commodities from India, which was seen as a confidence-building measure, even though it was made necessary for the national needs of people and industry. But the difficult situation on the Indian side is what if once again the Pakistani deep state resorts to another terrorist attack, as in the past, as soon as certain openings for peace emerge or materialize. And internal debates in a democracy have their own dynamics, especially when the ruling establishment is seen or shown to engage in vile and vile efforts to normalize relations knowing all too well that it may not get anywhere. . Well, that’s a lame argument since even Kaikeyi had to break his silence but extract his pound of flesh. Would Pakistan face terrorism? Does he have the improbable and dubious ability or intention? What’s the point of having a dialogue when compromises are indefensible and you are still trying? While the bilateral talks are absolutely done, the Pakistanis, iron clad friend, China, new found friend Russia and old friend of the United States and, of course, its angered benefactors in the Gulf could break out of the limited geopolitical mold and coerce the politico-military establishment to renounce politics. state terrorism because many of them not only know but have often shared information about terrorist camps with India. India’s only concern is this and it should also remind Pakistan of Bhasmasur’s story when he complains of being a victim of terrorism himself. Hopefully peace and dialogue between the two neighbors, which are a gift of geography and colonialism, will prevail for the greater good of people on the other side of the divide. What do you do with the spoilers, it’s up to each country to decide.

(The author is a former Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Libya and Malta. He can be contacted at [email protected] Twitter: @aniltrigunayat. Opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect position or position official policy of Financial Express Online.)

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