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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More