Establishing peace with India will pay dividends for Pakistan

 

Share
Related Topics

When Nawaz Sharif was elected Pakistan’s Prime Minister for a third time in May, he signalled that he would like to leave off where he started when he was last in power.

In 1998, he kick-started a peace process with India which was thwarted by a clumsy military adventure led by General Pervez Musharraf, who overthrew Mr Sharif in a coup the following year. In interviews with leading Indian journalists, Mr Sharif said his government would revive talks that had almost stopped since the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008. He impressed his questioners with pledges to hold an exhaustive inquiry into those attacks, and prevent the groups responsible from using Pakistan’s soil for any further ambitions they may have.

But if the disputes like the Line of Control incident, in which India’s Defence Minister claims Pakistani special forces crossed the Kashmir border and killed Indian troops, continue to escalate, all prospects of South Asian bonhomie may begin to recede further into the distance.

For Mr Sharif, peace with India has many potential dividends. As a  pro-business politician, he favours more trade with the larger, economically successful neighbour, hoping to lift Pakistan out of its economic misery by gliding in India’s slipstream. Pakistan’s energy crisis could also be alleviated through deals with India’s private sector.

As a politician who was once ousted in a military coup, Mr Sharif is also wary of how tensions with India can boost the army’s standing in Pakistan. In times of peace, the influence wielded by Pakistani generals diminishes. To this end, Mr Sharif has retained the portfolio of foreign minister himself, hoping to wrench back control of foreign policy from the generals. But Mr Sharif faces powerful opponents. While much of the Pakistani political class in principle wants better relations with India, there are hostile voices within the media and among religious hardline groups.

Mr Sharif is set to meet his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next month. Formal talks were to resume in January 2014. But Mr Singh also faces pressure to take a harder line. It would be pity if hardliners on both sides of the border are able to derail a peace process even before it has begun.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam