Pakistan and the Regime Change in Neighbouring Countries. After almost a decade, new leaders in the countries on eastern and western borders of Pakistan emerged. In India, after 10-year-long rule of the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come at the helm with Narendra Modi becoming country’s fifteenth Prime Minister. Similarly, in Afghanistan, end to a decade-long rule of President Hamid Karzai is on the cards. After two rounds of presidential elections in Afghanistan, either Ashraf Ghani or Abdullah Abdullah would be the country’s next president’ the election was so marred by the rigging allegations that the US had to interfere to foster a deal between both the candidates.
Then, we witnessed a round of ‘Letter Diplomacy’ whereby both the leaders exchanged letters and expressed their desire to take the bilateral relations forward. However, they face the daunting challenges in their way to moving forward. Now let’s have a look at the challenges we face and the strengths that can help us move forward:
1. Kashmir & Other Disputes
Terrorism is another formidable challenge for both India and Pakistan. Unfortunately, instead of extending cooperation to each other to eradicate this menace, the two countries have been pointing fingers at each other. India accuses Pakistan of being behind all acts of terrorism in India ‘Modi also reiterated this stance in his first meeting with Nawaz Sharif.
On the other hand, Pakistanis blame India of patronizing terrorism in Pakistan, particularly Indian funding for insurgents in Balochistan and FATA has been a sourcwe of great concern in Pakistan. India has not been able to conclude the investigation of Samjhota Express tragedy so far.
Modi’s New Security Team
Narendra Modi’s new security and foreign policy team is also being seen as a challenge. Dr Manmohan Singh had Shiv Shankar Menon as his National Security Advisor. Mr Menon had served as India’s High Commissioner to China and Pakistan. So, he was privy to the concerns of India’s two most important neighbours. However, Modi chose a former head of Indian Intelligence Bureau, Mr Ajit Doval, as his new National Security Advisor, which also indicates some wrangling in future.
India’s obsession pointing fingers at Pakistan in any act of terrorism, and completely ignoring domestic extremists groups, could hamper the serious efforts aimed at normalization of relations. The Minister for External Affairs Ms Sushma Sauraj, a Hindu hard-liner, is known as a dove neither in domestic political arena nor on external affairs. Moreover, allocating a cabinet slot to former Army Chief General (Retd) V K Singh is also not a positive sign because throughout his career, Mr Singh had been engaged in war games against China and Pakistan.
Trade: The Ultimate Strength
Soon after taking over as Pakistan’s Prime Minister, in 2013, Mian Nawaz Sharif announced that his top priority will be economic diplomacy and development. In India, Narendra Modi contested the election on the slogan of development and good governance. Nawaz Sharif himself comes from Pakistan’s powerful corporate sector whereas Modi was also fully backed by that of India. If trade and business gets a driving seat in policies of both the countries, huge gains in bilateral relations will definitely be reaped.
Pakistan and Afghanistan
Two rounds of Afghan Presidential elections in a relatively peaceful environment have, undoubtedly, been a great success and a milestone in the war-torn Afghanistan. Pakistan, clearly, doesn’t have any favourites in Afghanistan and whosoever is elected between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, it would be ready to work with him as the winner would be an embodiment of the wishes of Afghan people.
In an atmosphere of mistrust, antagonism and enmity, a good beginning has been made by the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India. Mr Modi wrote to Nawaz Sharif that he wanted ‘to chart a new course’ in the bilateral relations in an atmosphere ‘free from confrontation and violence’. Similarly, the Afghan presidential contenders have also aired their desire for working with Pakistan. The real challenge for Pakistan still is the internal security threat. While it will be nave to remain oblivious to the external threats on our borders, it has also become imperative that we put our own house in order.
The security forces of Pakistan are engaged in an all-out operation in North Waziristan Agency for eradicating the menace of terrorism in Pakistan once for all. But, the events like the one that happened in Model Town Lahore outside the residence of Dr Tahirul Qadri and the ugly scenes witnessed in Islamabad and Lahore at the time of his arrival in Pakistan do not augur well. Instead of showing internal cracks, the entire nation has to show unity to stand behind the troops fighting against the real enemies of Pakistan.