A good time to cultivate relations with India

Published: June 1, 2012

Both nuclear neighbours have gradually been easing the pall of tension at a time when Pakistan is increasingly worried about its dealings with its western neighbour. PHOTO: REUTERS

On a lazy Sunday morning on April 8 this year, President Asif Ali Zardari flew into New Delhi. His host, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was waiting to receive him with open arms and on the table were not only the best delicacies of his country, but also the agenda on which the future of the region and perhaps, the world hinges on.

In my opinion, the visit was crucial, not only because it enabled the top leaders of two hostile nations to come together, but also because its timing was of immense significance. It came about when the US and Nato are about to pull out most of their combatants from Afghanistan — a move that will leave the entire region’s future uncertain.

Both nuclear neighbours have gradually been easing the pall of tension at a time when Pakistan is increasingly worried about its dealings with its western neighbour. Pakistan’s relations with China and India’s with the US and Russia will also play a vital role in opening up new opportunities in relations between the two countries.

The latest move, in this regard, came earlier this year when Islamabad awarded the status of most favoured nation to New Delhi. Its emerging fresh relations with India provide a way forward not only for Pakistan, whose economy has been dwindling ever since the war on terrorism began, but also for the region as a whole.

Amid mixed expectations, it is also clear that unresolved foreign and defence challenges may act as stumbling blocks when it comes to making progress in promoting good relations with countries such as India and Russia.

At a time when Pakistan and India are trying to improve their relations, the US has been giving signals that an Abbottabad-like operation — which killed Osama bin Laden — might be on the cards against Ayman al Zawahiri. In such a scenario, it is important to continue to promote relations with India. In addition, Pakistan also needs to solve the chronic issue of governance whose absence is becoming more striking with every passing day and can hamper its moves to improve relations with its neighbours.

Read more by Zahid here, or follow him on Twitter @ZahidGishkori

Zahid Gishkori

Zahid Gishkori

A reporter for the national desk of The Express Tribune in Islamabad who tweets @ZahidGishkori

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • antony

    can I add my wish to this author’s sermon please. NO Poverty in pakistan .No misery in south asia and in particular pakistan . No loadshedding no water problem no terrorism no bombs and above all kashmir to be decided by the will of the people of kashmir. Oh no the last one is not in pakistan’s control and its in India’s control and India will not grant it with 1 billion people holding it. Now pakistan cannot accept it and hence start all that No into yes in reverse order in pakistan.Recommend

  • dasmir

    An article with cut and paste news from last months newspapers.
    Why bother to read this?Recommend

  • Ali S

    Cutting off ties with India is economic suicide in this era of globalization. We need to put the past behind and embrace each other as neighbours – that’s the only way to prosperity.Recommend

  • hassan

    What is the connection between Abbottabad-like operation on Ayman al Zawahiri and promoting relations with India ?

    If Pak tells India, “Look, if you are friends with me, we will tell our people not to attack you,” then, India might be forced to extend their hand of friendship out of hope. Otherwise, no chance. When India gains nothing from improving relations with Pakistan, why should they even bother ?Recommend

  • Sunny

    Improving relations with India !! the only good thing that this PPP Govt Has deliveredRecommend

  • BlackJack

    One thing that you can possibly pick up from India’s foreign policy (which is by no means perfect) is that we do not view potential/ existing friends or enemies through the prism of other relationships; the non-aligned movement is a historical anachronism, but was a courageous move that helped define Indian self-reliance and to shun over-dependence to the extent possible. On the other hand, Pakistan has always played the field – that is why your relationships remain transactional; you have an amazingly simple agenda and no long-term plan (remember the line in the Dark Knight where the Joker tells Harvey Dent – do I look like a guy with a plan?). Put bluntly – you want to make new friends so that you can give someone else the finger (Russia is the latest entrant in this opportunistic list). Instead, if Pakistan minds its own business and starts functioning as a responsible country that doesn’t want to make trouble for its neighbors, its view of the world (and vice-versa) will change drastically – how’s that for a dream.Recommend

  • http://India vasan

    If u want to develop a good relationship with India NOW, just because pak’s relationship with US has gone sour, you are starting on a wrong premise. You develop and nurture a relationship with India because India is your neighbour and North India (Only North India) had some commonalities with Pakistan. Any other reason is not good foreign policy.Recommend

  • alpha

    blackjack, we are familiar with india’s perfect record with neighbors:

    India threatened England in order to take Gurduspur and Ferozpur allocated to Pakistan
    India swallowed Junagarh on the basis of majority hindu against the wishes of its nawab who had acceeded to Pakistan.
    India swallowed Hyderabad on the basis of majority hindu against the wishes of its nizam
    India swallowed Kashmir on the basis of the maharaja ‘wishes’ irrespective of the muslim majority’s wishes. The instrument of ascension was conveniently “lost”.
    India swallowed the princely state of Bantva-Manavadar and it 26 muslim villages.
    India invaded and absorbed Goa 4,000 Portugese security with a force of 30,000 on the basis of a foreign presence on “republic of India’s” land. Portugal broke relations with India.
    India annexed Sikkim by formenting a coup against the Buddhist king manipulating the grievances of his subjects. The prime minister that supported India was labelled a traitor by his own people. 5000 Indian soldiers stormed a force of 243. 1 nineteen year old palace guard was killed. Sikkim the tiny country was no more
    India maintains contested boundary sections with Nepal including 400 sq. km over the Kalapani River.
    India continues to stall negotiations on disputed territory in Sir Creek with Pakistan
    India invaded Siachen Glacier
    India swallowed Muslim-populated Minicoy Islands (forgotten by the British) without any negotiation with the other dominion (pakistan) nor the Maldives who also lay claim to the island.
    Indian encroached on Nepali lands and committed atrocities along the border villages of western district of Dang. These actions resulted in the displacement of more than 6000 people from their homes. Cases of rape and disappearance have been reported.
    From Jhapa in the east all the way to Darchula in the west (where the Indian military has even set up a permanent base), the pattern of border encroachment is repeated, with forceful displacement, shifting of border markers and appropriation of territory.
    India has already appropriated some 59,970 hectares of Nepali territory at 54 points in 21 districts.Recommend

  • YeaRight

    @vasan
    Ordinary pakistan do not want to develop good relations with India, just like your ordinary indians do not want to develop good relations with pak. This is just an elitist fantasy of pakistani liberals who dont even constitute 1 percent of the total population. We have close relations with china, iran and the fact that putin’s first formal state visit is going to be to pakistan shows, that both pak and russia are looking forward to developing closer ties, since our relationship with us has gone cold. afghanistan is also soon going to be on pakistan’s side once the us leaves ( india backed northern alliances are fast declining power now). SO focus on your own house, because we pretty much have our bases covered.
    Thank you.Recommend

  • Chan Makhna

    Dear writer!
    your logic is too much strange that if Pakistan has tension with USA then Pakistan should promote its relations with India in counter to America influence. at present America has done many trade, energy, defence etc agreements with India than Pakistan. Even USA gave preference to India in nuclear energy field and didn’t relay on its front ally against WOT.

    when USA was going to attack on Afghanistan, India was ready to to give military basis to america even India has no direct boarder link with Afghanistan. so in currently circumstance when Pak-US relations are not good and Pakistan seeks help from India, then will really these measures of friendship with India help us against USA.

    will India neglect its long term ally and super power of the world for its old enemy Pakistan?????????? Recommend

  • Saad zahid

    Now Pakistan have to decide what to do if the want good relation with India then Pakistan also have to talk the about the long lasting issue of Kashmir because they cannot hurt those people by ignoring this major issue of South Asia on the other hand Pakistan also have to save their people from day by day raising inflation and poverty so its upto Pakistans policity makers how to counter this part..I hope whatever happens should come in the benifit of the both country’s and the whole part of South Asia…!!Recommend

  • AD

    Was that lazy Sunday morning? and i thought it was quite hectic.Where are flies , another Sunday approaching. Recommend

  • YeaRight

    @webeditor
    ET why is it that you are ready to publish every critical comment from Indian commenters but when we do the same it gets censored. What is it so offensive or abusive about my comment? Or have you started screening out comments that differ with your viewpoint and ideology?
    @vasan
    Ordinary pakistan do not want to develop good relations with India, just like your ordinary indians do not want to develop god relations with pak. this is just an elitist fantasy of pakistani liberals who dont even constitute 1 percent of the total population. we have close relations with china, iran and the fact that putin’s first formal state visit is going to be to pakistan shows, that both pak and russia are looking forward to developing closer ties, since our relationship with us has gone cold. afghanistan is also soon going to be on pakistan’s side once the us leaves ( india backed northern alliances are fast declining power now). SO focus on your own house, because we pretty much have our bases covered.
    Thank you.Recommend

  • John B

    Return of prodigal son. India always kept her doors open. Many wrote on the subject. The time is ripe now, and every stars are aligned. May not happen again and it will take only incident to spoil the party. Recommend

  • a-reader

    Could somebody tell me puhleeze why it is so important for some people that India and Pakistan hug each other and have a good cry for all the years they have been separated? Look, both countries have their own agenda and vision. There is absolutely no need for either one to have a longing for the other unless it is purely economical reason. The generation of the pre-partition days is almost gone. The only reason we should communicate is because we are neighbors and if either one’s action bothers the other it is time to discuss in a forceful way ( you know what I mean)Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    India should have a good relationship with all nations, even Somalia, Afghanistan,etc. Why should Pakistan be any different?

    Anyway we do not want anything from any power, including Pakistan. But, Pakistanis have to realize that this effectively says India is not giving up any part of its land to anyone. Being status quo and carrying a big stick really helps!Recommend

  • http://India vasan

    YeaRight: You have completely missed my point. Read my post again. I was questioning the author’s wisdom of nurturing a good relationship with India just because relationship with US has gone sour. I reciprocate your feelings and have no interest in developing an all embracing relationship with Pakistan. Just say “Hello” and then a “Bye bye”. No way an ordinary Indian would have anything to do with a country that preaches hate and practices hate of India 24X7 in all their schools, media, policies etc. Recommend

  • Surya

    @YeaRight:
    Develop some knowledge on the international politics scene instead being in lala land.Recommend

  • YeaRight

    @vasan
    Yes thank you for your refreshing honesty, which is exactly what I was stating. I dont think you either are in a position to preach to us about hatred, since your own media and ordianry people are so fixated on hating pakistan. The chief example of this is the effort indian commenters make to come to ET and write hostile comments towards Pakistanis. I mean seriously you guys are more obsessed with us then we are with you.
    @surya
    I pefectly know my international politics material which is why I gave a neat analysis. You need to get out of your bollywood land or did you miss the recent article which stated that India is worried about problems after 2014 because there is no certainty if karzai will be able to survive in power with whom India has signed the strategic agreement. India was too hasty investing in the sinking ship which is Afghanistan, its time indians accept the bitter reality instead of still airbrushing the factsRecommend

  • http://India vasan

    YeaRight: “I dont think you either are in a position to preach to us about hatred, since your own media and ordianry people are so fixated on hating pakistan. ”
    Should we say that would be a natural reaction to all the poison preached from 1947 in Pakistan about India in its schools, media etc etc by the govt, military and so on. At some point in time, you will start getting a reaction,Recommend

  • Whats in the name.

    @Yea Right:”we have close relations with china, iran and the fact that putin’s first formal state visit is going to be to Pakistan”, Sir you are simply refusing to see their diplomacy here. You think that you are the apple of their eyes. Supporting TIM militants against China, Junnodullah against Iran, nurturing Chechen rebels against the Russian state, and Ofcouse considering Afghanistan as your fiefdom and you are still being courted by these above countries. You are being played carrot and stick here. Either wake up and smell the coffee or ignore it at your own peril.
    Rgds
    PRecommend

  • YeaRight

    @vasan
    what reaction brings you 24/7 here to be obsess over each and everything said on this website? Your reply is prove that Indians are still not over the creation of Pakistan. You are just confirming what I said.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @alpha:
    I assume that this is your standard reply for any post related to India since it has no connection with my comment. Recommend

  • Deb

    @alpha
    “*India annexed Sikkim by formenting a coup against the Buddhist king manipulating the grievances of his subjects. The prime minister that supported India was labelled a traitor by his own people.’

    Blessed with such creative imagination you should try your hand in writing fictions.
    In no time you will hit the ‘Best seller list’.Recommend

  • observer

    @Alpha

    I thought the standard practice was to identify one’s rank and unit, instead of going under pseudonyms. Recommend

  • raw is war

    of course.Recommend

  • sid

    pakistani irregulars attacked kashmir………then the maharaja signed the instrument….
    pakistan started operation gibraltor and operation grand slam and accused india of starting 1965 war………..
    pakistan acceded the shaskan valley to china which was part of united kashmir……
    pakistani army forcefully occupied balochistan….
    pakiatani army helped jordan to kill thousands of palestians(now they claim to be victim of hindu zionist conspiracy).i can go on….please look at youself also……
    have sense this reotric will not take us any where………….Recommend

  • sana u llah khan

    it is our necessity to have good and cordial relations with india.we want good relations with india for our own national interest.it is not in the constitution of pakistan that india is our eternal enemy.by having good relations with india we can boost our trade foreign exchange reserves and ultimately employment opportunities.
    also we want relations with india on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect.we have to think possitively in having good relations with india…..Recommend

  • @vasan

    India because India is your neighbour and North India (Only North India) had some commonalities with Pakistan. Any other reason is not good foreign policy.

    that incorrect and a SOUTH CHAUVINIST statement (probably tamil oriented)

    culture doesn’t depend on language, india has a common culture allover with some diversity at each place.(EXCEPT some northeastern parts)Recommend

  • mahakaalchakra

    @alpha:

    Pakistan committed similar action in case of Balochistan which constitute 44% area of the entire Pakistan. If you add Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and disputed Durand line region, Pakistan has occupied mare than 50% of its area using same high-handedness if not direct force.

    All the areas referred by you in India are peaceful except Kashmir which saw insurgency since 1989 when Mujahideen were infiltrated in Kashmir valley (Jammu and Ladakh were more or less not affected) after USSR left Afghanistan. Situation in Kashmir is getting normal by each day and this summer a record number of tourists will visit the valley. Kashmiri want peace and development like any other state in India.

    On the other hand, a majority population of Pakistan (East Pakistan with 55% population in 1970) decided to rebel to get independence from the yoke of Punjabi-Muslim dominated army rule from the West Pakistan and got independence from those who committed genocide with 3 million dead and 300,000 raped during civil war of 1971.

    So the point is what is the achievement of vulture-eaten left over Pakistan in the last 65 years other than hundreds of nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles?

    Pakistan even today cannot not design or construct a small power station, establish steel mills, refineries, factories for rail engines and coaches, dams ..I can go on and on with the list.

    So why to jump up and down with the list? Show what you have done to your own region.Recommend

  • http://India vasan

    @vasan
    What I stated about commonalities of North India(only) with Pakistan is not chauvanism, it is realism. Even South and East Indians have lots of differences among themselves and with North Indians including language, food, method of celebration of festivals etc. That does not prevent us from being Indians. That is why we have Unity in diversity and we accept the diversity as part of being India and enjoy that. Recommend

  • Sane

    Those who think or wish rather crave ‘Good Relation’ with India like paid propaganda of ‘Amn ki Asha’ or SAFNA etc. are under some Indian JINX for which they are famous. ‘Banya’ shall never change.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @@vasan:
    I must agree with Vasan – people in the South have very little in common with Pakistan, just like people in Punjab/ UP have very little in common with say, Sri Lanka. You don’t have to assume that an assertion of identity is anti-national – then we are no different from Pakistan.Recommend

  • Sid

    Mr @vasan (the Mr is not ment to be instigating, but rather for identifying you since you didn’t give you name). Its completely true that South Indians have nothing in common with Pakistani people. That does not make Vasan a “SOUTH CHAUVINIST.”

    Diversity is central to the idea of India. Expressing it does not make him or me ( I am from the west part of india, and have nothing in common with Pakistani culture). anti-national.

    Do not ever again question the Indian ness of an Indian, be it on the basis of religion or region.Recommend