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

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

Government hails latest GDP figures, but there is still room for scepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little