A New Era of En­gage­ment?

Southasia - - Editor’s mail -

The Indo-Pak re­la­tion­ship is wit­ness­ing quite a few strides what with high-level talks, trade agree­ments and of course the very in­flu­en­tial Aman ki Asha eco­nomic fo­rum. Such steps are ad­mirable for sworn en­e­mies that are now look­ing to es­tab­lish a new era of bi­lat­eral en­gage­ment. While out­stand­ing mil­i­tary is­sues re­main, move­ments to usher in peace and agree­ments to en­hance trade can greatly ben­e­fit both coun­tries and their peo­ple. Trade is per­haps the most crit­i­cal and im- por­tant fac­tor. With Pak­istan re­vis­ing the neg­a­tive trade list and grant­ing In­dia the MFN sta­tus, it will curb mass smug­gling of goods and will in fact ben­e­fit from its en­try into the mar­ket. On the other hand, if In­dia were to fol­low through on its prom­ise of eas­ing visa re­stric­tions and trad­able goods pref­er­ences, it could pro­vide Pak­istan with healthy com­pe­ti­tion and cer­tainly help in al­le­vi­at­ing the coun­try’s trade bal­ance. Both coun­tries have much in com­mon and it is only sen­si­ble to fur­ther eco­nomic ties. It is im­por­tant to also re­mem­ber that while ex­change may not be ap­proved at a gov­ern­men­tal level, nu­mer­ous In­dian goods still ex­ist in the Pak­istani mar­ket through il­le­gal means. It is only ac­cept­able that the gov­ern­ment while still al­low­ing such en­try of goods, makes sure to charge for it and ben­e­fit from im­ports.

Mu­dasir Bashir Islamabad, Pak­istan

2. Much has been said re­cently about the Indo-Pak re­la­tion­ship. Over the course of a few months, nu­mer­ous se­nior level trade talks have been held, with some com­mend­able break­through. While both gov­ern­ments seem to be mak­ing a con­certed ef­fort to en­hance bi­lat­eral trade, cul­tural and so­cial ex­changes, such as Life­style Pak­istan, are also con­tribut­ing an in­sur­mount­able amount with re­gard to in­vest­ment, trade and cul­tural ex­change. Fur­ther­more, Aman ki Asha re­mains at its best to fur­ther di­a­logue and bring busi­ness­men and an­a­lysts to ex­plore in­no­va­tive ways to do busi­ness. Though such ef­forts are cer­tainly ad­mirable, they will only go a cer­tain ex­tent be­fore the re­la­tion­ship suc­cumbs to the real prob­lem: a mil­i­tary and strate­gic im­passe. Against the back­drop of cul­tural and trade ex­change lies the Si­achen tragedy that re­mains an out­stand­ing is­sue that ab­so­lutely can­not be ig­nored. Both sides will even­tu­ally have to talk about the is­sue and even though trade agree­ments have been signed, when push comes to shove it is de­bat­able how much such ad­vances will oc­cur within a strate­gic and mil­i­tary frame­work. It is de­bat­able whether both sides will be able to sep­a­rate mil­i­tary dead­lock with cul­tural and trade ex­changes. Though such strides have not been taken in the past 63 years, there is of course rea­son to hope.

Kash­mala Fa­rooqi Hy­der­abad, Pak­istan

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