Indo Pak Agreement: A Great Leap Forward

Pak Tea House welcomes the visit of Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna and the agreements regarding Trade and a relaxed Visa Regime. It was a step in the right direction, towards Making South Asia a peaceful place. Trade between the two countries and frequent contacts between ordinary folk from both sides will pave the way for a gradual end to the belligerency and Jingoistic narrative adopted by Hawks on both sides of the border.

Express Tribune, in their editorial titled, A historic breakthrough with India said,

“Once enforced, the new visa protocol will be transformational. Given the rise in India of an opulent middle class keen to travel as tourists, Pakistan will have to go on overdrive to build new facilities to cater to the new tourism despite its terrorism-marred conditions. New hotels and roads will have to be built for people coming by road, new border check posts in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Sindh will have to be constructed to receive them. Pakistan will now find it easy to agree to a two-way transit trade route between Afghanistan and India, thus averting the losses it was sure to sustain from the opening of an alternative route through the newly-built Iranian port of Chabahar. The route that joins India and Afghanistan will ultimately be the regional commercial highway to Central Asia. One can hope that the project of the Iranian gas pipeline will be favourably affected by Indo-Pakistan normalisation. The normalisation-first approach — favoured by the world but not by Pakistan — is going to facilitate the final resolution of bilateral disputes: Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage and other water issues, and terrorism, etc. Above all, Pakistan, once assured of peace on its eastern border, will be better able to confront al Qaeda and its ancillary terrorists like the Taliban, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jandullah without relying on the subterfuge of blaming India. Pakistan will cease to be the national security state preying on its own people and will be better able to align its national economy with the well-being of its people.”

Daily Times, in its editorial on 8th September titled “Pak-India relations on a new course” wrote,

“The determination to move forward is obviously a sign of maturing political will. However, there remains a lingering trust deficit that does not allow even relatively easier issues such as Sir Creek and Siachin to be resolved on a fast track. Similarly, accusing India of diverting Pakistan’s waters does not absolve Pakistan of its own mishandling of the situation. Pakistan needs to better argue its case and safeguardsort its interests in future. The building up of economic cooperation is something to celebrate. The process of dialogue has brought us so far and only dialogue could unravel the remaining misgivings. The door should remain open come what may.”

Surprisingly, the oldest newspaper of the country, Dawn, didn’t share the excitement shown by sister publications and remained circumspect in their editorial today on the same topic. In the editorial titled “More to be done

“Expectations were low ahead of Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna’s visit to Islamabad this week and, after two days of meetings culminating in a joint press conference yesterday, the predictions appear to have been largely correct. The big news is the inking of a liberalised visa regime between the two countries, a deal that was ready to be signed several months ago when the Indian commerce secretary visited but was delayed on the Pakistani side for as yet unspecified reasons. While welcome news, much will depend on the vigour and sincerity with which the new visa arrangements are implemented: even the most high-minded of ideas have often failed the implementation test when it comes to these two countries. Beyond that, however, there is not much good news to report from the meetings that capped off a year of dialogue between Pakistan and India. What seems to be clear is that the two countries have yet to recover the ground lost to the Mumbai attacks of November 2008. A little nudge here, a little push forward there, the dramatic steps have been eschewed in favour of small, uncontroversial measures. Leave aside Siachen or Sir Creek, even on the necessary move to allow Pakistani television channels access to the Indian market, there has been no movement. In the Pakistani and Indian context, the core issues and other problems are so well known and defined that if allowed to, diplomats, politicians and security establishments can dance around them forever unless someone grabs the issues by the scruff of the neck and forces some forward movement. Thus far, there is no one on either side who has been able to do that, even as many suspect that at least at the very top of the political leadership in both countries, the desire for normalising ties is deep and potentially meaningful.”

Blogger Abdul Majeed wrote on the topic in his blog titled “Tear Down This Wall of Hatred”,

“It is perhaps a major step in the right direction. There are a few unresolved issues that still need to be addressed with respect to the new visa regime. Apart from businessmen, minors, seniors and artists, relaxation should be provided to the rest of people as well. Pakistan and India boast a youth with combined strength of about 200 million. How can people-to-people relationships get better if the youth are excluded from visiting each other. I believe that this policy should be considered a stepping stone for better things to come. It requires a show of resolve on part of political governments on both sides to keep this process going and not let it get derailed by tragic incidents such as Kargil, the attack on the Indian Parliament or 26/11. Ultimately, both countries should talk about the elephant in the room i.e. Pakistani establishment’s policy of strategic depth.”

Comments are closed.