March 23, 2023

India-Pakistan ties could do with a constituency of pragmatists

The tortuous bilateral relationship between India and Pakistan may take an intriguing turn on the heels of two discrete events. In December, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership reportedly approved the country’s first integrated National Security Policy. The policy, which is scheduled to be made public on Friday, is supposed to weave in Pakistan’s economic interests into its security policy. Consequently, media reports indicate the policy wants an improved trade relationship with India and even wants to avoid hostility with India for the next 100 years.

In an independent development, India’s Army Chief General Manoj Naravane addressed the traditional annual press conference on Wednesday ahead of the Army Day. He made two relevant points on the India-Pakistan front. One, Pakistan is still pushing terrorists into Kashmir to stir trouble. Two, India is open to the idea of demilitarisation of Siachen glacier, subject to credible conditions.

Read also: Pakistan security policy seeks 100 years of peace with India, but with caveat

Spells of improvement in India-Pakistan ties have been short-lived because of structural constraints in Pakistan’s polity. Therefore, it is unlikely that anyone in India is going to be hopeful about a 100-year break in hostilities. Yet, it is possible that Pakistan’s National Security Policy may herald a rethink in some sections of the country. Once economic security is brought into the picture, the cost-benefit equations of the prevailing approach will change significantly. That may over time create a constituency of pragmatists.



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