Photo: AP/Press Information Bureau
In what could be a potential game-changer in Indo-Pak relations, the two countries have agreed to adopt the Sino-India model of diplomacy, The Economic Times reports.On his visit to India over the weekend, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari cited the model as a way to improve bilateral trade between the two countries, while addressing other issues step-by-step.
This is what the India-China model focuses on, and it seems to have worked wonders for trade between the two nations: Despite the decades-long boundary dispute, bilateral trade between India and China has crossed $70 billion. In comparison, India-Pakistan trade totals a mere $2.7 billion, according to First Post.
India has been pushing this model for years with Islamabad, but it has, until recently, been reluctant to adopt it, with the political establishment viewing Kashmir as the “core issue” that had to be resolved before trade deals were considered. But in the last few months, Pakistan has reversed its stance, granting India the Most favoured Nation status, and agreeing to relax visa restrictions as well as discuss trade and the Kashmir issue simultaneously.
Calling President Zardari’s India visit “very successful and important”, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Sunday said that opening of trade with India would help bring stability in the region, a statement echoed by the region’s other powerhouse, China.
“Our best friend China… has advised us to promote trade relations with India,” Gilani said, according to The Nation.
Of course, while increased trade could, in theory, lead to peace in the long-term, some believe that the expected “peace dividends” from this new development are a little ambitious, especially because of the Pakistani military’s control over much of the economy. Venky Vembu at First Post says normalization of trade relations could loosen the military’s grip on industry, which is why it is blocking the move. It also has the support of indigenous manufacturers wary of losing business to Indian imports.
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