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PAK-INDIA RELATION A NEW DAWN

Whether we talk about the attack on Indian parliament in 2011 or 26/11 Mumbai attacks, those incidents also became as the major cause of economic and political destability in Pakistan.

So I feel that there may be a better chance for a real improvement in the bilateral relationship whether it is through cricket diplomacy, arts and culture or purely on political basis. Although political efforts have been failed in the past, so why not give these new efforts a chance?

Pak-India relations have been tense since partition. Recent dramatic improvement in relations between the two countries promises distinct benefits for the two nuclear-armed neighbours. For both India and Pakistan, the economic and political imperatives for achieving lasting peace now appear to be stronger than ever. The cold war era, when India and Pakistan were both firmly ensconced in their respective superpower camps, provided obstacles and no incentive for rapprochement were in consideration. In the decade that followed the cold war’s end, both countries were mired in domestic political strife, while their largely state-run and inefficient economies were stuck in a lowgrowth rut. Mutual standoff, interference in each other’s affairs, and a bristling arms race have defined relations between the two for most of the past sixty-five years, keeping the risk of a full-scale conflict and the possibility of a nuclear war at a high level. There have been three major wars and numerous armed skirmishes between the two countries. The first war  is also called the First Kashmir War. The war started when the Maharajah of the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu was pressured to accede to either of the newly independent states of Pakistan or India. Tribal forces prompted by Pakistan attacked and occupied the princely state, forcing the Maharajah to sign the “Agreement to the accession of the princely state to India”. The UN Security Council passed resolution. The war ended in December 1948 with the Line of Control dividing Kashmir into territories administered by Pakistan (northern and western areas) and India (southern, central and northeastern areas). The second war in1965 started in the context of Pakistan’s Operation Gibraltar, which was designed to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir to precipitate an insurgency against rule by India. India retaliated by launching an attack on Pakistan. The war caused thousands of casualties on both sides and was witness to the largest tank battle in military history since World War II. It ended in a United Nations mandated ceasefire.

The third war in 1971 was unique in that it did not involve the issue of Kashmir, but was rather precipitated by the crisis brewing in East Pakistan. The Pakistani army at the time was waging genocide of Bangladeshi Hindus and Bengali freedom fighters. Repeated protests were brought by Indira Gandhi to the UN, however the US stood loyal to the Pakistan army. After months of internal conflict, Bengali-majority East Pakistan wanted to break away from Pakistan and demanded independence. The Bangladeshi resistance movement against Pakistani occupation, called Mukti Bahini, stepped up their activities, with the Pakistanis retaliating with the mass killings of ethnic Bengalis. India, compelled to intervene on humanitarian grounds, as well as political interest in an independent Bangladesh, entered into the war. Pakistani forces trapped in East Pakistan with supplies becoming scarce surrendered on the eastern front. The war resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. This war saw the highest number of casualties in any of the India-Pakistan conflicts, as well as the largest number of prisoners of war since the World War II after the surrender of nearly 90,000 Pakistani troops and civilians. It is believed that nearly three million Bangladeshis were killed as a result of this war.

Pakistan’s Operation Gibraltar, which was designed to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir to precipitate an insurgency against rule by India. India retaliated by launching an attack on Pakistan. The war caused thousands of casualties on both sides and was witness to the largest tank battle in military history since World War II. It ended in a United Nations mandated ceasefire.
 Money previously spent on equipping and maintaining its half-millionstrong standing army could be funnelled towards social needs that would improve the population’s living standard and economic productivity.
 The third war in 1971 was unique in that it did not involve the issue of Kashmir, but was rather precipitated by the crisis brewing in East Pakistan. The Pakistani army at the time was waging genocide of Bangladeshi Hindus and Bengali freedom fighters. Repeated protests were brought by Indira Gandhi to the UN, however the US stood loyal to the Pakistan army. After months of internal conflict, Bengali-majority East Pakistan wanted to break away from Pakistan and demanded independence. The Bangladeshi resistance movement against Pakistani occupation, called Mukti Bahini, stepped up their activities, with the Pakistanis retaliating with the mass killings of ethnic Bengalis. India, compelled to intervene on humanitarian grounds, as well as political interest in an independent Bangladesh, entered into the war. Pakistani forces trapped in East Pakistan with supplies becoming scarce surrendered on the eastern front. The war resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. This war saw the highest number of casualties in any of the India-Pakistan conflicts, as well as the largest number of prisoners of war since the World War II after the surrender of nearly 90,000 Pakistani troops and civilians. It is believed that nearly three million Bangladeshis were killed as a result of this war.

At present, there is immense pressure from western governments on Pakistan and India to improve bilateral relations, start trade, ease visa regimes, etc. Islamabad’s decision to grant MFN status reflects two broader developments within Pakistan. In the current relationship between India and Pakistan, a major benefit for Pakistan from normalised relations with its much larger neighbour would be to unlock the vast potential for cross-border trade and investment. With a land border stretching nearly 1,900 miles. Another benefit is the revenues that would flow from a natural gas pipeline that will cross Pakistani territory en-route to India from Iran. Another key benefit is the possible reduction in its military spending, which currently takes twenty-five percent of the total government budget. Money previously spent on equipping and maintaining its half-millionstrong standing army could be funnelled towards social needs that would improve the population’s living standard and economic productivity. President Pervez Musharraf put forward bold proposals for settling the Kashmir dispute. Closer diplomatic relations have resulted in a number of events: the exchange of high commissioners in May 2003; the renewal of a nuclear-weapons test ban by both sides; the setting up of a hotline between the two leaders in 2004, and a meeting between Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in India in April 2005, at a one-day cricket match between the two national sides, called cricket diplomacy. These developments have been matched by confidence-building measures on the ground, including the restoration of direct air services and a Delhi-Lahore bus service, as well as sporting and cultural exchanges.

 If relations are normalised, the free movement of people, capital, and goods is set to boost bilateral trade, which has been suppressed by prohibitive tariffs, a highly militarised border, and severe travel restrictions.
With a standing army of almost 600,000, and a reserve force of 500,000, Pakistan’s defence budget averaged 25% of total spending, or 4.5% of GDP, over the past eight years. The potential peace dividend for Pakistan is, therefore, substantial in terms of the increased ability to spend on infrastructure, health, and education, improved fiscal balances, as well as a possible trade and investment boom with India. If relations are normalised, the free movement of people, capital, and goods is set to boost bilateral trade, which has been suppressed by prohibitive tariffs, a highly militarised border, and severe travel restrictions. Peace would also enable the construction of a proposed gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan. Whether we talk about the attack on Indian parliament in 2011 or 26/11 Mumbai attacks, those incidents also became as the major cause of economic and political instability in Pakistan. So I feel that there may be a better chance for a real improvement in the bilateral relationship whether it is through cricket diplomacy, arts and culture or purely on political basis. Although Political efforts have been failed in the past, so why not give these new efforts a chance?

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