OPINION

Crossing the Border: The Normalisation of Indo-Pak Relations

January 26, 2006
Reformist Muslim

The normalisation of Indo-Pak relations continues. We've already seen the opening of the Kashmir border despite terrorist attacks in India, L.K. Advani visiting Pakistan, and yet another cricket series being played in exemplary spirit.

The latest piece of good news is the creation of a bus service linking the Punjab. The most obvious benefit is increasing cultural encounters and creating greater understanding between the two peoples. Having said that, I think that this has been overestimated. The number of people who can take advantage of this service is not that big, and those who do usually already have family or friends on the other side of the border, or are doing so to visit religious shrines.

What gives me hope are the attitudes of the two governments which allowed the bus service to be created. Without a doubt Manmohan Singh doesn't seem to have achieved much in his time as Prime Minister, while everyone has their own opinion of President Musharraf, but the peace process is something which transcends these concerns.

It would help solidify India's position as a politically mature nation to go alongside its growing economic strength. At the same time it would provide Pakistan some much needed stability, while the prospect of increased trade with India would certainly help its economic development. It would also serve to demonstrate that the 'updated Caliphate' argument, which seeks a Muslim confederacy, is a utopian vision which is not the best way to achieve progress in the Muslim world. Pakistan needs greater trade and cooperation with India not Algeria.

This does not mean that there aren't problems in both countries. Pakistan in particular struggles from increasing sectarian violence and has not effectively resolved the problem of Baluchistan. India, meanwhile, has to find a way of achieving stability in places like Bihar to go along with the prosperity which it has achieved in other parts of the country, while also ensuring that communal tensions do not get out of control again.

However, despite these other problems, there is no doubt that the Indo-Pak rivalry has overshadowed the other ones. From unnecessary military expenditure to the ever present threat of war, it has created a situation in which domestic problems have been ignored in supposedly trying to deal with the 'other'. These problems will continue to exist even with greater co-operation, but rather than hindering each other's efforts, the two countries will be able to help in dealing with what are very similar problems.

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Crossing the Border: The Normalisation of Indo-Pak Relations

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Author: Reformist Muslim

 

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#1
cynical nerd
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January 26, 2006
10:38 AM

So I was reading smoothly till I came across:

Pakistan in particular struggles from increasing sectarian violence and has not effectively resolved the problem of Baluchistan. India meanwhile has to find a way of achieving in stability in places like Bihar to go along with the prosperity which it has achieved in other parts of the country, while also ensuring that communal tensions do not get out of control again.

Another attempt in ==/==. I've heard someone comparing Balochistan with Bihar. The former occupies 48% of Pak territory where separatists attack gas pipelines. While Bihar which constitutes 1/20th of Indian landmass, is the most lawless state, no Indian govt uses helicopter gunships and fighter jets against its citizens like Musharraf is doing in Balochistan!

#2
Aaman
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January 26, 2006
11:14 AM

Black Hawk Patna!

#3
reformist muslim
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January 26, 2006
11:46 AM

Cynical nerd, I wasn't attempting to equate the two sets of problems - simply pointing out they exist and need to be worked upon. I apologise if this didn't come across in the writing.

#4
cynical nerd
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January 26, 2006
12:15 PM

No probs. We just pointed out that the scale of the two problems are vastly different. I think I have seen your comments in Secular-Right! Keep posting.

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