Relations with India

by Abbas Adil

The controversy and confusion surrounding Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto’s comments about the need to open things up with India aside, it is very important to clear the spirit of this debate; especially as it relates to the long term. Let’s be very clear that Pakistan and India are not the only two neighbouring states to ever have had problems with each other in this world. Yet they are fast becoming the only pair to be incapable of even getting to the point of agreeing to disagree about a lot of things. And with 75 years already wasted, there’s only so much longer that things can go on like this.

These are also two of the youngest countries in the world, which means that they have the largest youth bulges of almost all nations. That means that most of the people in both countries do not even know why they are supposed to always hate and fight with the other because their problems are effectively rooted in a bygone era and have little or no relevance for the people of today and tomorrow. They are far more interested in moving forward and growing in keeping with the demands of the 21st century; which explains why they get along so well whenever they live and work together in other countries.

The foreign office has a very valid point that the Modi government’s antics leave very little space for peace gestures. But how is the average businessman in India, or Pakistan for that matter, to blame for what Modi is up to? In fact, by isolating and therefore marginalising ordinary people on both sides of the divide just because of BJP’s fundamentalist dogma, aren’t we actually playing into Modi’s ploy? A good way to work towards a thaw is to engage two bickering sides in long term, binding trade and economic projects which both learn to nurture in time. And then, when both begin to benefit, the more troubling things can be taken up.

But in either case it is very important to march ahead, and never stay static. *

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