There is no need to rush
While the fresh steps that India and Pakistan have taken to normalise relations are welcome, there is need for caution as well. With the commerce secretaries of the two countries in the seventh round of talks, three key agreements, including a treaty on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs issues and the redressal of trade grievances have been signed. This is not entirely unwelcome.These talks have thus carried forward the efforts to to improve trade relations between the two countries. Pakistan has also agreed to stick to the deadline for removing import ban on all products from India and giving it the most favoured nation status by the year-end, though this is not without conditions for it insists that India reduces duties on about 200 items of interest to the country including textile and farm products. Thus, trade liberalisation, which had started this February when the items for trade were significantly increased has continued. This is in keeping with India’s policy to deepen engagement with Pakistan on a variety of issues as well as to further people to people contact. Earlier this month the Minister of External Affairs of India S M Krishna and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Hina Rabbani Khar had met in Islamabad to review progress in the dialogue process. The ministers noted that the dialogue process should be guided by the commitment of leadership of the two countries, expressed at the highest level, to find peaceful and mutually acceptable solutions to all outstanding issues and to build a relationship of trust and all round cooperation between Pakistan and India. However, there are some key bottlenecks in the relationship between India and Pakistan. This had been noted in the discussions between the ministers who had agreed that terrorism posed a continuing threat to peace and security. Though the two countries reaffirmed the strong commitment to fight terrorism in an effective and comprehensive manner, Pakistan has yet to demonstrate this. It has not yet cooperated with India in bringing all the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks to justice. There are other terrorism related issues as well, including the dismantling of the terror training camps in Pakistan that are directed at India. For true progress in the relationship between India and Pakistan, there must be a clear demonstration of its commitment to peace as demonstrated in the ending of all hostile activities against India. Till there is firm evidence of a genuine change of heart on the part of Pakistan, the government must not rush in a foolhardy manner by changing significant aspects of India’s current policy towards this nation.