Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Applying lessons from India-Bangladesh ties to relations with Pakistan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Lessons to improve India-Pakistan relations

There is a sharp contrast between India’s relations with its neighbours two neighbours: Pakistan and Bangladesh. The article suggest drawing on the lessons from Indo-Bangladesh relations to mend Indo-Pak relations.

Indo-Bangladesh relations

  • Prime Minister of India will travel to Dhaka this week to commemorate Bangladesh’s Declaration of Independence from Pakistan 50 years ago.
  • From being one of the world’s poorest countries in 1972, Bangladesh is now racing to be in the world’s top 25 economies by the end of this decade.
  • It is also a time for deeper reflection — on the inability of the region to come to a closure on the two Partitions of the subcontinent, the first in 1947 and the second in 1971.
  • Delhi and Dhaka have started finding ways to overcome the tragedy of the Partition to chart a new course of bilateral and regional cooperation.
  • Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has provided strong leadership in advancing ties with India over the last decade and more.
  • Recently the Indian government mobilised enough political support to get a boundary settlement agreement with Bangladesh approved by the Parliament.
  • India also backed an international tribunal’s award resolving the maritime territorial dispute with Bangladesh.
  • The steady improvement in bilateral relations over the last decade has reflected in growing trade volumes, expanding trans-border connectivity, mutual cooperation on terrorism, and widening regional cooperation.

Applying lessons from Indo-Bangladesh relations to Indo-Pak relations

  • Positive changes in India’s relations with Pakistan have been elusive.
  • Hopes have been rekindled by the agreement late last month between the two military establishments to a ceasefire on the border and to address each other’s concerns.
  • Following are the lessons we can learn and apply productively to Indo-Pak relations

1) Importance of political stability

  • First lesson is the importance of political stability and policy continuity that have helped Delhi and Dhaka deepen bilateral ties over the last decade.
  • In contrast, the political cycles in Delhi and Islamabad have rarely been in sync.
  • Pakistan’s mainstream civilian leaders have all supported engagement with India.
  • In fact, it is the military that is yet to make up its collective mind.

2) Concerns for mutual security

  • Cooperation in countering terrorism built deep mutual trust between Dhaka and Delhi.
  • That trust helped deal with many complex issues facing the relationship.
  • In the case of Pakistan, its army has sought to use cross-border terrorism as a political lever to compel India to negotiate on Kashmir.
  • If sponsoring terror seemed a smart strategy in the past, it has now become the source of international political and economic pressure on Pakistan.

3) Depoliticise national economic interests

  • Delhi and Dhaka have steadily moved forward on issues relating to trade, transit and connectivity by dealing with them on their own specific merits.
  • Pakistan, on the other hand, has made sensible bilateral commercial cooperation and regional economic integration hostages to the Kashmir question.
  • It is not clear if Pakistan is ready to separate the two and expand trade ties while talking to India on Kashmir.

Consider the question “The steady improvement in bilateral relations with Bangladesh over the last decade can offer valuable lessons to be applied to India-Pakistan relations. In light of this, examine the factors that India and Pakistan need to focus on to achieve improvement in bilateral relations.”

Conclusion

Both India and Pakistan need to recognise the importance of pursuing the national well being through regional cooperation. That is exactly what Bangladesh has done in the last decade.

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