Pak-India relations | Editorial

Prime Minister Imran Khan was right to congratulate Indian Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi as being a reciprocal act this was a diplomatic obligation. Unlike 2014, Mr Modi declined to invite his Pakistani counterpart to his inauguration. This too was understandable as invitations were extended this time by India to leaders of BIMSTEC, of which Pakistan is not a member, and not to the heads of member states of SAARC, which is currently dysfunctional due to Indian manoeuvring.
Pakistan-India relations remain mired in controversies. With Pakistan-bashing given a priority during the BJP’s election campaign, none expected the PM-elect to be seen hugging his Pakistani counterpart at his inauguration. While improvement of ties between India and Pakistan is required to create an environment of peace in the region, there are hard realities that cannot be wished away. The PTI government has to proceed towards improvement of relations in a realistic manner without unnecessary euphoria or pessimism.
Pakistan has, by and large, got itself disburdened of the terrorist networks that were considered India-specific. But no positive change is manifest so far in India’s Kashmir policy. Despite Mr Modi’s promise to pursue an inclusive policy, there is still no respite to attacks on the Muslims. There is no let-up to repression in Kashmir either. One will have to give Mr Modi time to take steps to prove that he really meant it when he called on all NDA allies to work in the spirit of inclusiveness with solidarity with everyone, and development for all, with the trust of all.
India is under pressure from Washington to completely align itself with the US regional strategy of balancing China in return for support in turning India into a regional overlord. In case India takes the bait, this would have negative consequences for Indo-Pakistan relations. With the economy becoming a pressing issue for Mr Modi in the days to come, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is to visit India later this year, could show the Indian leader an alternate way out, that is, aligning India with the programme of the SCO aimed at growth through increased regional trade and economic cooperation. In case this happens, this would provide a strong basis for improvement of relations between India and Pakistan.
May 29, 2019

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