News / Asia

Experts: South Asia's 2011 Agenda Depends on India/Pakistan Relations

India's Border Security Force soldiers patrol at the India-Pakistan border, about 250 kilometers northwest of Ahmadabad, India, Nov 23, 2010
India's Border Security Force soldiers patrol at the India-Pakistan border, about 250 kilometers northwest of Ahmadabad, India, Nov 23, 2010

The year 2010 in South Asia was mostly dominated by the political agenda between India and Pakistan. It was marked by attempts by both sides to revive a peace process that began in 2004, but stalled four years later because of a terrorist attack in India's financial hub of Mumbai.

The effort lost its momentum this summer as India reportedly wanted to start with a narrow agenda of security and terrorism issues, while Pakistan called for broader talks to include the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Longtime observers of South Asian affairs in Washington say the next year in that region again will depend on how fast India and Pakistan can end the impasse in their peace process. They say the key to overcome the stalemate lies in their economic relations.

The stalemate was triggered by the terror attack in Mumbai in 2008 that exposed weaknesses of India's homeland security system. And it lingers now because of what India maintains is Pakistan's slow pace in punishing the culprits who belong to Pakistan-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The peace process began in 2004 when the military president General Pervez Musharraf was still in power. Just before he resigned in 2008, Musharraf said he was very close to establishing peace with India through an agreement over the long-standing Kashmir dispute.

"We were proceeding reasonably, fast in fact," said Musharraf. "We had worked out the parameters and we were drafting an agreement. I think it is a pity that we could not reach conclusions. Fleeting moments come in the lives of the leaders and countries, and the key to success is to grasp the fleeting moments."

General Musharraf had banned the Lashkar group, but its leaders later changed the name of their group twice, allegedly to operate under cover as charity groups.

India has said it is not interested in reviving the peace process now until Pakistan dismantles anti-Indian terror groups operating from its soil and punishes the militant leaders involved in the Mumbai terror attack. Pakistan says it wants more evidence to punish them, and India has alleged that is just a stalling tactic.

But senior Pakistani analyst Ikram Sehgal said India should expand its economic relations with Pakistan, as it did with China despite the ongoing border disputes. "Yet it moved to establish those economic links [with China], which ultimately will translate into political links," said Sehgal. "I think that is what we expect from India."

Shuja Nawaz heads the South Asia program at the Atlantic Council in Washington. He also said the key to improving relations between India and Pakistan lies in improving economic relations. "Pakistan has a shrinking economic pie and India has a growing economic pie. Pakistan does not have a unified approach. There is a divide in the civilian (government) and the military. They need to see the advantage in growing the economic pie in Pakistan, and the best and the only way that is currently available is trade with India," said Nawaz.

Trade between the two neighbors in 2009 was less than $2 billion, and an agreement over giving "the most favored nation status" to each other in trade is still pending. But annual potential trade volumes between the two nations have been estimated by various trade associations at between $6 billion to $10 billion.

Nawaz said economic relations between the two countries are not growing because in Pakistan, the Army has been resisting the civilian government's efforts.

"There needs to be an effort at the highest level," said Nawaz. "In Pakistan's case it means involving the leadership of the military in the way the military has been involved in the strategic dialogue with the United States."

The experts say they hope the two archrivals will break the impasse in 2011 by expanding their trade relations because the overall economic agenda in South Asia mostly depends on the status of their relations.


You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China to Invest $20 billion In India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high profile visit More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid