Way for­ward

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Moeed Yusuf

Irecently about CPEC but also about re­viv­ing the Iran-Pak­istanIn­dia pipeline now that Iran seems set to break free of its in­ter­na­tional iso­la­tion. Equally, out­stand­ing dis­putes can­not be to­tally ig­nored if mean­ing­ful di­a­logue is to en­sue. Pak­istan, in re­turn, should con­sider west­ward con­ces­sions to In­dia - in its own in­ter­est given that CPEC's gains can't be op­ti­mised till this north-south axis con­nects to the east-west one. In­ci­den­tally, the Chi­nese un­der­stand this just as well and have been hint­ing at it in pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions.

Sec­ond, de­spite all the dif­fer­ences and the grave mis­trust on ter­ror­ism on both sides, they can't suc­ceed with­out talk­ing to each other.

No mat­ter how ei­ther side ar­gues their case at the track I or II lev­els, the dis­cus­sion in­evitably ends up be­ing a blame game cen­tred on the two sides not shar­ing enough in­tel­li­gence and ev­i­dence. The two sides de­bate is­sues of po­lit­i­cal will, the def­i­ni­tions and roles of vested in­ter­ests, the ori­gins of par­tic­u­lar at­tacks, the pace of le­gal tri­als, and all the rest but ul­ti­mately, you'll find them ac­knowl­edg­ing that there isn't a fu­ture for coun­ter­ing ter­ror­ism if In­dia and Pak­istan keep go­ing at it sep­a­rately.

The dis­cus­sion at Chaophraya fo­cused not only on Mum­bai, Gur­daspur, and Ud­ham­pur but also on the rise of the self­styled 'Is­lamic State' in Afghanistan and its threat to Pak­istan and In­dia.

There was a con­sen­sus that un­less IS is stopped, it will pose ma­jor chal­lenges to our two coun­tries. And equally, that IS may be the first 'truly com­mon' ter­ror­ism threat (as the two sides per­ceived it) that ought to force In­dia and Pak­istan to col­lab­o­rate in Afghanistan.

We ended up rec­om­mend­ing a di­a­logue be­tween the two coun­tries' in­tel­li­gence agen­cies to find ways to co­op­er­ate on IS even if they con­tinue to con­test each other in other spheres. Fi­nally, se­cu­rity ex­perts like me were forced to think be­yond the here and now dur­ing con­ver­sa­tions on cli­mate change - specif­i­cally wa­ter.

The Chaophraya di­a­logue has set up a task force on the is­sue, one whose de­lib­er­a­tions con­vinced me all over again that the chal­lenges we talk about pale in com­par­i­son to the threat from na­ture.

The sin­gle big­gest take-away from the pre­sen­ta­tions we heard was en­tirely un­sur­pris­ing: there is noway for ei­ther side to sur­vive the scare with­out co­op­er­at­ing, and co­op­er­at­ing for decades to come.

Our two-day in­ter­ac­tion left me re­con­sid­er­ing the seem­ing ca­pit­u­la­tion of the Pak­istani prime min­is­ter dur­ing the Sharif-Modi meet­ing at the re­cent Ufa sum­mit.

Nawaz Sharif got bashed at home for hav­ing left out Kash­mir and other dis­putes of im­por­tance to Pak­istan. But as one par­tic­i­pant sug­gested, could this be a price worth pay­ing for get­ting back to di­a­logue, with a mu­tual un­der­stand­ing that it won't now be in­ter­rupted by any par­al­lel at­tempts to iso­late the weaker party? If this is the deal, it may well be worth it.

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