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Siddharth Kumar: What is the current foreign and economic policy of the Indian Government towards Pakistan? Is that a right policy to go forward?

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  • Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: India has always adopted the policy of peaceful engagement with Pakistan on all fronts. It has sought dialogue on all outstanding issues (including economic, cultural and people-to-people contact). On the economic front, India has pushed for enhanced trade and commercial engagement and granted Pakistan Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status. However, Pakistan has directly or indirectly held such economic engagements hostage to the Kashmir issue and held that non-resolution of the issue poses challenges for engagement on other fronts. After constructive dialogue between the two countries during 2004-07, India has found it difficult to restart the dialogue because of spoiler-acts by non-state actors with well-known linkages to state agencies. The Mumbai attacks (2008), the case of beheading of Indian soldiers (2013), and the Pathankot and Uri attacks (2017) prove this point. As a responsible country, this is the right policy. India has to continue with its policy of engagement hoping against hope that one day the other country would understand the necessity of dialogue, without holding the process hostage to the regressive policy of any institution in Pakistan ready to use terror as an instrument vis-a-vis India. Pakistan has to realise one day that its policy of perpetuating a structure of hostility vis-a-vis India would hurt it more than it would harm India in the long run. A conscious reversal of such policy would be possible if the people of Pakistan put incremental pressure on their government and the military establishment to shun such a suicidal path. India can only hope to strengthen the peace constituency in Pakistan through its policy of engagement.

    Posted on May 17, 2018