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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid