Re-engaging India and pakistan
While the two countries had been physically partitioned before, the ‘intellectual partition’ of India and Pakistan is now taking place. The “intellectual and emotional partition” of the two countries is more stark today. Indian and Pakistani societies have learnt to look away from each other culturally. Pakistani students learn a language more Arabic than Urdu, of a polity that begins in 1947, and about an ancient history that relates to foreign invaders from the country’s west more than the shared history with its east. On the Indian side, contemporary cultural linkages have been severed, with Abida Parveen and Ghulam Ali no longer able to perform in India, Pakistani actors barred from work in Indian films, and a television network stopping the very popular telecast of Pakistani soap operas. Sporting events are fewer, and there is little “healthy rivalry” when Indian and Pakistani teams do meet: instead a defeat becomes a national disgrace, while a victory is celebrated as a quasi-military conquest. Visas are still granted for pilgrimages on both sides, but for all other travel they are tightly controlled and granted as exceptions to the rule.
Bilateral trade- At risk
1. Bilateral trade, which had developed a low but steady normal, could be reduced even further now: as Indian development of Chabahar port in Iran circumvents Pakistan by sea, and an air cargo corridor to Afghanistan replaces land cargo entirely.
2. Pakistan is willing to risk its trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia, but won’t allow Indian trade to Afghanistan come through Wagah.
Increasing ceasefire violations
‘Trading fire’ at the Line of Control (LoC) has increased, where Pakistan attempts to push in infiltrators over the LoC into India under covering fire, and Indian troops fire back, taking also a high toll for civilians on both sides.
1. After the 2003 ceasefire had been implemented, villagers on either side of the LoC had returned to their homes and rebuilt schools along the area. Most of that peace has been undone by the past few years of ceasefire violations.
2.ceasefire violations (CFVs) on both sides combined and one civilian casualty in 2006, 2016 saw 51 dead in about 900 CFVs. On Terrorism: The discourse on terrorism is even more divided.
3. After the Mumbai attacks of 2008, Pakistan admitted in public statements at least that the perpetrators of the attacks would be brought to justice. Yet in the past three years, the Mumbai trial in Rawalpindi has all but ground to a halt.
4.The Lashkar-e-Taiba’s operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi is out on bail. 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, out of custody last month, plans to stand for elections in 2018 in Pakistan. 5.On the Pakistani side, there’s growing belief that India funds groups such as the Tehrik-eTaliban Pakistan (TTP) as well as insurgent groups in Balochistan.
While both India and Pakistan have recently appointed new High Commissioners to Islamabad and Delhi, respectively, there is very little hope of any fresh initiative at this point. It is necessary for both sides to stem the intellectual partition as:
1. India has long opposed “third-party interventions”, but the lack of dialogue with Pakistan is imposing just that, with every dispute between the two countries now being taken up at global forums: the United Nations, Financial Action Task Force, International Court of Justice, and World Bank for the Indus Waters Treaty.
2. With the U.S. drawing India into its Afghanistan policy, and China’s stakes in the ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor, the subcontinent is becoming an area of contestation by players bigger than both India and Pakistan.
3. Even in Afghanistan, their interests are being increasingly defined by the coalitional arcs being drawn: with the U.S., India, and Afghanistan ranged on one side; and Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and the Taliban on the other.
4 India’s decision to stay out of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meet in Pakistan has complicated its standing as a regional leader. While alternative arrangements such as The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) initiative and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) represent some parts of the region, they cannot replace the whole, and the region becomes easier to fragment, as China has managed to do by making inroads into Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
5 The growing distance between the people of both countries will be much more difficult for their governments to bridge in the future.
The two sides can explore simple engagements on the environment, medical tourism, energy pipelines and electric grids in the interim. In a world where connectivity is the new currency, and multiple alignments are replacing polar geopolitics, it is hard to justify the disconnected space between New Delhi and Islamabad.