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Getting ‘Normal’ With India

by Newsweek Pakistan

Narinder Nanu—AFP

Both countries must step back and work to restore bilateral ties

Judging from how India has behaved in regard to bilateral cricket competitions, it no longer appears to be interested in talking to Pakistan. Public opinion in India is hawkish toward Pakistan because Islamabad is more isolated than ever in the region. The common line taken by the average pro-BJP Indian is Pakistan can’t be trusted, which is an implied reference to Pakistan’s ill-fated Kargil Operation of 1999 which was universally condemned and after which Pakistan had to “cool” its case on Kashmir.

But Indian lawyer-scholar A.G. Noorani wants Indo-Pak talks for normalization of relations to start in 2018 and is not happy about the Indian protestation of lack of trust with Pakistan. He writes in Dawn, “Several false notions underlie India’s present policy towards Pakistan. One is the ‘absence of trust’—as if one should only talk to those with whom one’s relations are close enough to inspire trust. This is as unrealistic in personal relations as it is in relations between states.”

Pakistan’s “frontloading” Kashmir in any peace talks with India is equally unrealistic. The current Indo-Pak crisis is of lack of normal relations, not of non-resolution of the Kashmir dispute, if the world were to give its verdict. If the 2013 election in Pakistan is any yardstick, most Pakistanis want normalization with India through free bilateral trade. Pakistan is not without its own doves while hawks prevail in India. The “non-dove” and “non-hawk” ex-foreign minister of Pakistan Khursheed Mahmud Kasuri advocates normalization but the rejectionists hold that normalization would put the “core” dispute of Kashmir on the backburner.

Normalization would mean free bilateral trade, commissioning of two pipelines—one from Iran and one from Turkmenistan—transiting Pakistan to reach India as a major consumer and, something that China would welcome, the joining of India in the great China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project for facilitating regional trade as pledged at South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) of which India, Pakistan and Afghanistan are members. After trade puts an end to borders of suspicion, Kashmir would be open to both “normalized” states.

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1 comment

Imran Ahmed January 13, 2018 - 7:55 pm

Normalization of relationships between the countries of the subcontinent is inevitable. Rabid right-wingers on both sides of the border cannot keep the whole subcontinent hostage to their irrational hatred forever.


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