Millennium Post (Kolkata)

Experts see no immediate improvemen­t in Indo-Pak ties under PM Sharif’s second stint

Shehbaz Sharif after being elected on Sunday raked up the Kashmir issue in his maiden address

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ISLAMABAD: As Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif assumed office for a second time, experts here do not see an immediate improvemen­t in ties between Pakistan and India due to their major difference­s over the vexed Kashmir issue.

The two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours have been locked in a love-hate relationsh­ip since independen­ce from British colonial rule in 1947, having brief periods of engagement amidst conflicts. They have so far fought at least three major wars, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, with both claiming it in its entirety.

The ties nosedived in 2019 after India abrogated Article 370 of the Constituti­on, revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcatin­g the state into two Union Territorie­s. Pakistan termed the step a violation of the UN Security Council Resolution­s and severed all links, including trade, with India. Rasul Bux Raees, Professor of Political Science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, said that the

divergence in the ties has widened since 2019, and it is not easy to judge how the two sides can reverse the tide and embark on a different course that may lead them to reconcilia­tion.

“I don’t see an immediate change in attitudes or any reengageme­nt, as India is also going for elections and PM Modi will not like to change its narrative about Pakistan,” he said.

The formation of a new government in Pakistan after the general elections has created hope that Prime Minister Shehbaz may strike a positive chord to end the deadlock and improve the battered ties with India.

Shehbaz after being elected as the leader of the House on Sunday raked up the Kashmir issue in his maiden address but pledged to improve ties with all leading nations, including the country’s neighbours.

Pakistan has been insisting that the onus of improving the ties was on India and urging it to undo its “unilateral” steps in Kashmir as a sort of pre-condition to start the talks. India has dismissed the suggestion and made it clear to Pakistan that the entire Union Territorie­s of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh were integral and inalienabl­e parts of the country.

New Delhi has also asserted that the constituti­onal measures taken by the Indian government to ensure socio-economic developmen­t and good governance in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are matters internal to India. Professor Raees said it was easier for the government to say something than do it about India and the new government would not take any quick initiative as after internal strife spanning over the years, Pakistan has become weaker and hence not in a position to force conditions on India.

“Pakistan is not in a position to put conditions before the start of a dialogue, as India has become stronger with the passage of time and Pakistan weaker,” he said.

Dr Ashfaq Ahmed, Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and Internatio­nal Relations, University of Sargodha, said that initially the Pakistan Prime Minister would be fully focused on stabilisin­g the coalition government, and it may not be possible for him to concentrat­e on external relations, especially ties with India. He also said that it would be interestin­g to note the reaction by India once the Pakistani government sent any signal that it was ready to engage in the resumption of talks.

Ahmed said that the Kashmir issue could become more difficult to handle as India was modernisin­g its weapon systems at a fast pace, and by 2030, it would be in a position to claim superiorit­y over Pakistan because by that time its S-400 system, backed by Rafale fighter jets and the latest drones it was acquiring from the US would be fully deployed and operationa­l.

The two nucleararm­ed South

Asian neighbours have been locked in a love-hate relationsh­ip and have so far fought at least three major wars

 ?? ?? Shahbaz Sharif elected as Pakistan’’s new PM
Shahbaz Sharif elected as Pakistan’’s new PM

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