The economic road to peace

When global relationships are based on commerce, trade and industrial enrichment, India and Pakistan can’t overlook the importance of a two-pronged relationship.

Riaz Toori August 02, 2010
Geographically, socio-economically, culturally as well as religiously no other two countries of the world have so much in common as India and Pakistan.

The two countries comprised a single economic and political unit for many centuries before independence. Ever since the creation of Pakistan relations between India and Pakistan have been steadily grown tenser. The main factors responsible for strained relations include: dispute over the question of Kashmir, properties of borders and sharing of waters. So far, Kashmir has proved a major origin of disturbances, clashes and lack of trust. The public and government of both countries have emotional affiliations with the ‘Kashmir cause’ and none is willing to relinquish its strong stance over it.

The Kashmir dispute can neither be overlooked nor can the issue be left unattended

The foreign policies of both countries give much importance to the Kashmir issue - neither makes any compromises. At the end 1971 war, Pakistan saw the emergence of Bangladesh with irreparable geographical hammering that strengthened the hostility between the two countries. India has always taken advantage of Pakistan’s political and internal turbulence. And the Pakistani government has persistently charged India for abetting insurgents and scoundrels, holding it responsible for ethnic clashes in the province of Balochistan and Fata.

In the same way, Pakistan is accused for terrorism inside India. Whenever any untoward incident takes place within the two countries, the respective governments promptly commence with a blame game hurling allegations at one another. As a result, relations and dialogue between the two countries remain erratic and without any influential results.

Now, a majority of the people on both sides are yearning for bilateral mutual diplomatic and consequently trade relations - to cope with the forthcoming challenges poised before the subcontinent. It is obvious that the war on terror has pushed the region into a swamp of socio-economic, political and security problems causing heavy damage to the infrastructure of Pakistan’s tribal region.

In short, the overwrought atmosphere of one country renders tense the atmosphere of the other - making the whole region tumultuous. The responsibility to begin a meaningful dialogue for the resolution of conflicts lies upon the shoulders of both governments.

Trade to conquer disputes?

Analysts  on both sides strongly believe that bilateral trade and commercial ties between India and Pakistan can bring the two countries closer and can engage both in shared interests. When there is trade and economic ties, both countries would work for the political and economic stability of the other and would refrain from becoming part of any activities that could be harmful to regional peace. Trade can shun fears of war, ensure stability in the region, lend a hand in stemming terrorism and expand the scope for a solution to the Kashmir dispute.

As all efforts made so far have more or less failed, the only thing that can bring the two countries in a harmonious relationship is trade and commerce. Analysts state that India and Pakistan purchase their commodities from Singapore at triple the price whereas through direct trade people of both countries would be able to get these at much lower prices.

Around us there are many countries that had strong enmities in the past but are now connected through mutual trade and commerce. Singapore and Malaysia have put differences aside for the sake of economic stabilisation. Europe is now one power on the basis of economic ties and interests.

Today, when global relationships are based on commerce, trade and industrial enrichment, India and Pakistan can’t overlook the importance of a two-pronged relation. The water issue is getting worse day by day, and it can take the two countries towards ceaseless war. Inside Pakistan it is feared that by 2015, India intends to make Pakistan a desert and bring the nation on its knees without firing a single bullet through water crises. However, if this is true then it will be lack of prudence on India’s part to bring two atomic powers of the region in to direct confrontation, which would not only destroy both the countries but would also render Asia as an inhabitable continent.

Making the water issue a top priority, both countries should immediately embark upon the road to diplomacy through dialogue otherwise there could be serious repercussions for the region. In this regard, the World Bank could play a dynamic role as due to its good efforts and mediation in the past, the two countries have signed water agreements. Simultaneously, they must avow to abide by the principle of abstaining from malicious propaganda against each other. After the declaration of Obama’s Afghan policy of 18 months, political analysts around the world are of the view that US would not leave the region without leaving a strong proxy that could protect her interests and retain her role in the region. For this purpose the best option for the US is India due to its tussle with China and Pakistan and its rapidly emerging economy. If India goes for this option then all efforts for a peaceful Asia would become futile and the entire region would become hostage to endless fear, unrest, uncertainty and terrorism, say analysts.

The war we will lose

There cannot be any doubt that under these circumstances the failure of the war on terror is inevitable. The government of Pakistan is longing for trade and commerce relations with India likewise the Indian government wants Pakistan to agree to give transit facilities to its goods to Central Asia and Afghanistan and liberalise the movement of businessmen. In case Pakistan agrees over it particularly at a time when the Pak-Afghan border is under strain, Indian’s efforts across the Pak-Afghan border can be employed for peace. India and Pakistan will enter into a new epoch of technological advancement, peace and economical intensification. Throughout the last several years, opening up trade between India and Pakistan has become a manifest choice for peace between the two countries.

It is believed that improved relationships can play an imperative role in normalising the political relationship. Millions from both sides will be beneficiaries and it would help to reduce the tensions between two neighbours remarkably.
Riaz Toori A citizen of what he considers the most ingnored area of the country, the tribal areas and an expert on Fata
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Vicram Singh | 12 years ago | Reply Question to the author : Will Pakistan consider holding a plebiscite in that part of Kashmir that is under its control ? If so how will Pakistan return demographics in Kashmir to its 1948 state ? How does Pakistan plan to get back parts of Kashmir ceded to China ? Even better if MMA Dr. Farid Ahmad Piracha answers these questions.
Schnurlose Telefone | 13 years ago | Reply the precious information you provided do help our team's research for our company, appreaciate that.
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