With Pakistan facing both economic and security crises of increasing proportions, lately arguments have been put forth that Islamabad should try to create some breathing space by restoring ties (especially trading flows) with India. The potential economic and peace dividends are compelling indeed. And both countries have prudently added some quiet years since the two precipices of the year 2019. However, there are several indications why a thaw in these frozen relations may remain a pipedream for some time.

For one, it takes two to tango. Even at the basic level, things get complicated. While Pakistan could really use produce from India to boost local supply and stabilize food prices, there is danger of political backlash against the PDM government, whichis ruling with a weak mandate. Mainstream political parties have consensus on dialogue with India, but opportunism also strikes sometimes. Across the border, too, the government is hostage to the very anti-Pakistan sentiment that it had a role in whipping up to win polls.

Moreover, it appears that some hardnosed calculations have already been made by the Modi government. A few weeks ago, the Indian Foreign Minister publicly linked Pakistan’s economic crisis with its alleged support for militancy. He also refused any direct or indirect assistance. Those statements gave away the impression that New Delhi is looking to further squeeze and weaken Islamabad diplomatically, even in this hour of crisis. However, an unstable Pakistan cannot be in India’s interest in the long term.

Furthermore, the nature of ‘big power competition’ is also indirectly impacting Indo-Pak relations. For instance, after the Biden administration restored high-level contacts with Pakistan in mid-2022 in order to counter Chinese influence, India reacted with considerable displeasure. That put paid to any hopes of US intervention to broker peace between the two neighbors. Similarly, the continuing India-China territorial standoff has the potential to entangle Pakistan, a possibility that also fuels distrust across the border.

In addition, even if the two governments have the best of intentions, the timeline seems less amenable for any major breakthrough to take place in the near future. Over the next twelve months, both Pakistan and India are scheduled to go for national elections. If the recent past is any guide, the jingoism in the prelude the elections is expected to be comparatively higher in India than in Pakistan. It remains to be seen if the level of anti-Pakistan sloganeering that took place in the 2019 India polls will be topped in the 2024 polls.

On top of that, every now and then, there are revelations that stoke even more suspicions. The latest one involves a former governor of the India-occupied Kashmir publicly blaming the Modi government for a) its incompetence in preventing the February 2019 Pulwama attack that killed dozens of Indian soldiers, and b) using the tragedy to attack Pakistan and create a winning platform for elections a few months later. Whatever the truth may be, there is constant danger of the game of brinksmanship going horribly wrong.


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Lolll Apr 19, 2023 09:56am
India doesnt need PK trade and PK is too weak to do anything to them...we are just happy to say our defence is the best, we churn out terrible music videos featuring ali sethi but then India beats us at everything..stop focusing on them, get your sh** together first
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HashBrown® Apr 19, 2023 02:57pm
@Lolll, Nothing makes us Pakistanis laugh more than seeing hindustanis crawling all over our news sites while claiming they have no interest in Pakistan. How else do you explain the obsession? And if hindustani music is so much better, why is it that your artists are routinely caught plagiarising Pakistani ones? As for defence, when was the last time Pakistani forces blew up their own helicopter in a skirmish? In fact is there any other country in the world that has shown that level of comical stupidity?! A few words of advice for you: spend less time raping Kashmiris and stealing their land, start feeding the 50% of your population that is still starving, build some toilets and know your place - maybe then Pakistan will be open to talks with you. If not, keep sending Abhinandans over, and we'll happily keep on shooting them down, beating them up, offering them fantastic tea and making you wait nervously at the border for us to return them. You're welcome.
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Bharath Apr 19, 2023 04:56pm
This comment section is why our politicians have anti Pakistan or India rhetoric. It’s mostly because of media magnifying any bad incident that happens in our countries. If there was any disaster in India, Pakistan media would be first to report it. Not that Indian media is any better. Both of them don’t have any standards and people generalize Indians or Pakistanis with what they see in media. Hoping for reconciliation when Pakistan is in crisis and ditching otherwise wouldn’t work as foreign policy. Pakistan has to move on from Kashmir if they want better relation with India. The whole idea of Pakistan that Muslims can’t exist with Hindus is proven to be wrong and nothing but propaganda of Jinnah to have separate nation.
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HashBrown® Apr 19, 2023 05:11pm
@Bharath, "The whole idea of Pakistan that Muslims can’t exist with Hindus is proven to be wrong and nothing but propaganda of Jinnah to have separate nation." The two nation theory has never been more validated in the past 76 years than it is today; that is evident from the monstrous treatment that Muslims in hindustan are currently facing. However, it was valid even in 1947, when fanatics like Patel and extremist Hindutva groups were dictating Nehru's policy. Jinnah's only crime was highlighting this ugly truth and saving millions of Muslims from the same brutality that the world has witnessed (despite many media blackouts) in Gujarat and Occupied Kashmir.
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