Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] Embers of hope: on India-Pakistan relationsop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kartarpur Sahib (Location, importance)

Mains level: How sports and cultural connect can be used to rebuild India Pakistan ties


Indo Pak ties

  1. With tension permeating the India-Pakistan military and diplomatic relationship for the larger part of seven decades, people-to-people and economic links have borne the brunt of this mutual aggression
  2. In September, bilateral tensions further soured after the killing of a Border Security Force soldier and the cancellation of a meeting between the two Foreign Ministers

Rays of hope

Two other developments have rekindled hopes of creative collaborations

  • Pakistan’s willingness to open the Kartarpur corridor
  1. This would connect Dera Baba Nanak in India with a historic Sikh shrine, the Darbar Sahib, Narowal, in the town of Kartarpur, Pakistan
  2. Darbar Sahib is where Guru Nanak Dev, the first Guru of the Sikhs, spent the last few years of his life
  3. Various ministers of Pakistan’s newly formed government have given assurance about the opening of the corridor as well as willingness to provide visa-free access to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara
  4. This has been a long-standing demand of the Sikh community
  5. This issue is relevant not merely to the Sikh community but to all those who believe in Guru Nanak’s message of peace and compassion
  • India-Pakistan trade
  1. The U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan spoke of Pakistan’s willingness to allow India-Afghanistan trade via Pakistan
  2. Bilateral trade with Afghanistan through Pakistan matters strategically to New Delhi and Kabul
  3. With this move, Pakistan could change the narrative in South Asia

Learning from China

  1. The India-Pakistan relationship could use the India-China relationship as a template
  2. Despite tensions such as the Doklam standoff, bilateral trade rose in 2017-18
  3. People-to-people linkages (for example, in terms of pilgrimages to Kailash Mansarovar through Nathu La) have not been affected

Way forward

  1. It is unfortunate that steps such as opening up the Kartarpur corridor, which can help in building better ties, get relegated to the background once political tensions rise
  2. Such steps could act as the game changer in the process of bringing Indo Pak ties back on track
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