Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

India’s South Asian opportunity


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RCEP

Mains level : Paper 2- India-Pakistan relations and its impact on the region

India-Pakistan relations weigh down heavily on the SAARC. This affects the economic development of the region. The highlight opportunity for India and Pakistan to separate politics from economics.

Economic integration

  • There is a growing, but unstated, realisation that neither India nor Pakistan can wrest parts of Kashmir that each controls from the other.
  • A fair peace between India and Pakistan is not just good for the two states but for all the nations constituting the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
  • While SAARC has facilitated limited collaborations among its members, it has remained a victim of India-Pakistan posturing.
  • World Bank publication titled ‘A Glass Half Full’ conclude that there is explosive value to be derived from South Asian economic integration.
  • An economically transformed and integrated South Asian region could advantageously link up with China’s Belt and Road Initiative and even join the RCEP.

Important role of India

  • Collectively with a population of slightly over 1.9 billion, South Asia has a GDP (PPP) of $12 trillion.
  • However, India’s enjoys an overwhelming ‘size imbalance’ in South Asia.
  • The shares of India in the total land area, population, and real GDP of South Asia in 2016 are 62%, 75%, and 83%, respectively.
  • The two other big countries in South Asia are Pakistan and Bangladesh with shares in regional GDP of only 7.6% and 5.6%, respectively.
  • Given its size and heft, only India can take the lead in transforming a grossly under-performing region like South Asia.

Consider the question “How India-Pakistan relations affects the potential of SAARC? Examine the role both countries can play in the prosperity of the region through economic integration.”


This is the moment for India to think big and act big. But for that to happen, India needs to view peace with Pakistan not as a bilateral matter, but as essential and urgent, all the while viewing it as a chance of a lifetime, to dramatically transform South Asia for the better, no less.

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