News / Asia

India Looks for Easier Relations Under Sharif

Pakistan's incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif speaks to journalists at his farm house in Raiwind on the outskirts of Lahore, May 13, 2013.
Pakistan's incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif speaks to journalists at his farm house in Raiwind on the outskirts of Lahore, May 13, 2013.
Anjana Pasricha
It was 14 years ago when Nawaz Sharif was prime minister in Islamabad that Pakistan and India initiated the process of normalizing their ties. With the veteran leader's party once again set to gain a legislative majority in Pakistan, hopes are high in India that efforts to ease the decades-long animosity between the two rival nations will get a major boost.
 
As election results emerged indicating a victory for Nawaz Sharif's political party, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh extended an invitation to him to visit India, saying he hopes to chart a new course for their relationship.
 
The Indian prime minister had reason to reach out to the man set to emerge as Pakistan’s next civilian leader - Sharif has emphasized that he intends to pick up the remnants of a peace process he began with India in 1999.  
 
In the intervening years, efforts by the two countries to move past their decades-long animosity have had their setbacks.
 
But Indian analysts are confident that under Sharif’s stewardship, things will get better. Lalit Mansingh, a former foreign secretary in New Delhi, calls the former prime minister the “best bet for India”.   
 
“He is somebody with whom we have a degree of comfort because India has dealt with him, has had good results with negotiations when he was in power, so it is better to deal with him than deal with somebody new and inexperienced. The election victory is quite convincing, therefore he will have much more confidence in speaking for Pakistan when he negotiates with India,” Mansingh said.
 
Indian officials are hoping for some positive signals in the coming months. For a start, New Delhi wants Pakistan to boost bilateral economic ties by ushering in a liberalized trading regime. Pakistan has not yet implemented a commitment to give India Most Favored Nation trading status -- a move that many hope will now happen.
 
But while economic ties may get a push, improving diplomatic relations could be far more challenging.   
 
Uday Bhaskar, a strategic affairs analyst, cautions that Sharif’s ability to develop better ties with India will be contingent on his relationship with the military, which he says still makes key strategic decisions for the country.   
 
“Three issues that concern India -- Kashmir, the support to groups that are engaged in terror activities against India, and the management of nuclear weapons and missiles -- all three of these are outside of the purview of the civilian leadership of Pakistan. So unless he is able to bring about a certain rearrangement in the distribution of power in Pakistan and establish his own primacy, I think we should wait and watch,” Bhaskar stated. 
 
India and Pakistan have fought three wars and come close to a fourth. Earlier this year, a war of words erupted between them as tensions spiked between their militaries along the disputed Kashmir border.    
 
But there is some optimism that this time around, the Pakistani military may not thwart peace overtures with India.  
 
Bharat Karnad at New Delhi’s independent Center for Policy Research said the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani is not likely to be a stumbling block.  
 
“I think General Kayani has given ample evidence that he means to redirect his military’s efforts towards internally containing terrorist outfits and eliminating terrorism. He has made that his top priority. He is being very realistic and I think he needs to be commended for it. So this will dovetail with Nawaz Sharif’s political intent to have a rapproachement with India,” said Karnad.
 
In India, meanwhile, support for strengthening peace with Pakistan cuts across the political spectrum. That is important because New Delhi too heads into elections next year and could see a change in leadership.
 
Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party leader Prakash Javedkar recalls that the 1999 peace process with Nawaz Sharif began under a BJP-led government in New Delhi. He said he will be happy if that process is taken forward. He expressed happiness that "democracy has flourished" in Pakistan. A strong, democratic government in Pakistan will be good for both countries, Javedkar said.  
 
That is the hope of many in India. A shared culture has facilitated linkages between their citizens since Nawaz Sharif was last in power, but their political divide has not been easy to bridge.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tender Heart
May 13, 2013 11:23 AM
Please take a moment to help a great nonprofit doing work in India to send children to school. http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/empowering-underprivileged-indian-youth/x/1295449

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid