Trade talks

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The relationship between Pakistan and India has been fraught with historical conflicts and political tensions. However, the restoration of trade can serve as a pathway to peace and prosperity. Foreign minister Ishaq Dar recently hinted at preparations underway to reevaluate the suspended trade relations with India. Considering how Pakistan had very publicly cut ties with India in the wake of the controversial withdrawal of Kashmir’s special constitutional status in 2019–something Pakistani leaders keep insisting wouldn’t change until the decision was reversed– dropping hints of such a bombshell is bound to garner international attention.
Nevertheless, it should not be a surprise coming from PML(N), which has always taken great pride in enjoying the interests of the bourgeoise groups; trying to cater to the commercial and business interests of the country. Trade has always proven to be a powerful tool in fostering peaceful coexistence between nations, and in the case of Pakistan and India, it can unlock new opportunities for collaboration and economic growth. Greater engagement with the neighbourhood is economically justified, and therefore, it makes sense when the Sharif party seeks to prioritize geo-economic connectivity. These policies have also been enshrined in the country’s National Security Policy document and those wishing away their existence under the guise of political differences would do well to take a look at the numbers exchanged between India and China–two adversarial states that have repeatedly gone to war.
Isn’t it better to pursue a direct line than continue with the trickling-down of transit trade between the two neighbours using the farther away and more expensive option of Dubai?
Trade can generate significant economic benefits for both nations. It can access new markets, attract foreign investment, and spur innovation and productivity. As seen in other regions around the world, trade has often paved the way for resolving political conflicts and promoting regional stability. The humanitarian aspect is equally important as it gives a chance to bring people closer together, fostering cultural exchange and promoting a sense of shared humanity. By encouraging interactions between citizens on both sides of the border, trade can help break down stereotypes and prejudices, ultimately contributing to peace and stability in the region.
However, just because renewing ties offers a sustainable solution to a country perpetually searching for new avenues to balance the scales does not mean it would be a smooth, challenge-free walk in the park.
Hawks lingering in New Delhi have been capitalising on this animosity for far too long and hence, would not be in the mood to give up their privileges. Still, if a structural foundation can be found, which wins the confidence of central institutions, we could open our doors to our neighbours while standing firm on our principles.