Pakistan Today | India, Pakistan must overcome mistrust despite hardliners
The International Crisis Group said the recent dialogue process between India and Pakistan “provides the best chance yet for bilateral peace and regional stability”, but both countries “must still overcome serious mistrust among hardliners in their security elites”.
In its report titled: Pakistan’s Relations with India: Beyond Kashmir?, the think tank analyses how the deeper economic ties they are building could help repair the breach between the two nuclear-armed powers who have fought multiple wars with each other.
For over six decades, bilateral relations have been overshadowed by the Kashmir dispute. “With political will on both sides to normalise relations, however, the dialogue process has resulted in some promising achievements. Broader economic ties would provide a more conducive environment to address longstanding disputes like Kashmir,” it said.
“Pakistan and India need to build on what they have achieved to reach sustainable peace”, says Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s South Asia Project Director. “Deeper economic ties have been formed. But an effective integration of the two economies requires measures that enable greater movement across the border”.
Numerous challenges still threaten the chance for peace and stability. Pakistan’s fragile democratic transition, pivotal to the success of the dialogue, is endangered by a powerful military that is deeply hostile toward India and supports anti-India-oriented extremist groups. Another Mumbai-style attack by militants would make the dialogue untenable and could even spark a new war.
“India’s concerns about jihadi groups are legitimate but should not define and encumber dialogue with Pakistan. Given its neighbour’s fragile democratic transition, New Delhi should be more flexible and patient. Such an approach, if sustained, would enable the Pakistani civilian political leadership to take the initiative on security-related and territorial disputes, including Kashmir,” the report said.
“Pakistan’s ability to broaden engagement with India depends on a sustained democratic transition, with elected leaders gaining control over foreign and security policy from the military”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “This would result in new prospects to move beyond a rigid, Kashmir-centric approach to India”.