Make a bold move

After he hosts Zardari in Delhi, PM must, finally, make his Pakistan trip

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari sit down for lunch in New Delhi on Sunday, the two leaders can raise a toast to each other for their joint effort to keep alive the India-Pakistan engagement in the dark days that followed the outrageous terror attack on Mumbai at the end of November 2008.

In trying to pick up the threads of the dialogue in 2009, both leaders had to overcome much resistance and scepticism at home. Together, the two have surprised the world with their tenacity in engineering a breakthrough in bilateral trade relations.

For the first time since the frontiers between India and Pakistan closed down after the 1965 and 1971 wars, Singh and Zardari have begun to lend an economic dimension to the border. A roadmap for comprehensive normalisation of bilateral trade relations is now under implementation.

As they celebrate their rescue of the India-Pakistan dialogue from the wreckage of Mumbai, Singh and Zardari are acutely conscious that the political clock is running out on them.

Pakistan will elect a new government and president next year. While Zardari might return to power, Singh will certainly not when his term runs out in 2014. Meanwhile, the domestic political constraints on Singh and Zardari's freedom of foreign policy action remain tight.

Although Zardari has survived the rough and tumble of Pakistan's politics, he does not have the power to override the army's veto on Islamabad's policies towards Delhi.

Like the army in Pakistan, the Congress party in India is a terribly conservative organisation. For the Congress leadership, doing nothing with Pakistan is preferable to taking any initiative that could be remotely controversial.

Yet, Singh and Zardari know that in the bleak political landscapes they both confront, the only bright spots are the possibilities they have created for each other in exploring new avenues of bilateral cooperation.

... contd.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views, opinions and comments posted are your, and are not endorsed by this website. You shall be solely responsible for the comment posted here. The website reserves the right to delete, reject, or otherwise remove any views, opinions and comments posted or part thereof. You shall ensure that the comment is not inflammatory, abusive, derogatory, defamatory &/or obscene, or contain pornographic matter and/or does not constitute hate mail, or violate privacy of any person (s) or breach confidentiality or otherwise is illegal, immoral or contrary to public policy. Nor should it contain anything infringing copyright &/or intellectual property rights of any person(s).
comments powered by Disqus