INDO-PAK: LITTLE FAITH IN COEXISTENCE

SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Apr 13 - 19, 2009

Having agreed to divide India into two countries on the basis of religion, the colonial rulers left a thorn called Kashmir. Since independence the two emerged entities Hindustan and Pakistan have spent trillions of dollars on procurement of arsenals and also fought three wars. Had they had faith in the law of mutual coexistence, the two countries would have emerged as leading economic super powers. British crown acquired control of the 'Golden Sparrow' through East India Company, after realizing the enormous economic strength of the subcontinent.

Two Nations theory was the basis of division of Indian subcontinent despite the fact that the emerged entities had people from both the religion living in their territories. It was believed that having this diversified population would result in better understanding and support for each other. However, those opposing the division on the basis of religion indulged in attempts to weaken the fragile entity called Pakistan. People having vested interest on both sides of the boarder became propagator of the myth that both the countries want to overpower each other, which involved them in 'arms race'. To prove their point they fought three wars and they still indulge in cross boarder aggression.

Unification of Germany should have taught them the lesson but the obsession seems to be getting more intense with each passing day. The modus operands has changed, previously they indulged in firing at boarders now they indulge in sabotage by patronizing the terrorists following an old rule 'tit for tat'. The confidence building measures (CBMs) were not approved by those who want to maintain 'constant state of war' situation. Though, Pakistan is often accused by Hindustan for Islamic militancy but has failed in proving that Hindu militancy was not responsible for killing of thousands of Muslims in post-independence riots and the most recent and the worst also in Indian Gujarat.

Formation of World Trade Organization, various blocs including the strongest one European Union, NAFTA, ASEAN etc. proves that regional clusters are emerging to after taking into account SWOT an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Yesteryear's hostilities are transforming into today's friendship for accelerating economic growth and achieving synergy. It is no secret that India and Pakistan enter into economic cooperation; jointly they could become economic super powers of the world. They have huge population, treasures of agriculture and mineral resources, industries to complement each but all these demand end to hostilities, not being approved by those who sell them weapons of mass destruction.

Keeping aside the hostilities, it is necessary to understand the scope of cooperation between the two countries. Both the countries supplements and compliments each other therefore, it demands cooperation for the betterment of people of both the countries. The undesired restrictions on trade proliferates smuggling, deprives both the governments of revenues, enhances cost of doing business and above all affect the consumers because they have to pay higher prices of products

Both the countries have similar weather and soil conditions which give them opportunities to share output of crops like wheat, rice, cotton and edible oil, onion, potato etc. Similarly, Pakistan should benefit from heavy and light engineering industries of India and India should benefit from cement, fertilizer, rock salt, and even textile intermediate products. The movement of goods between the two countries is perhaps the easiest because of hundred of kilometers long common boarder, rail and road links, proximity helps in reducing transit time and freight cost.

Pakistan also has the potential to become energy corridor for India, be its IPI/TAP gas pipelines or both.

Both India and Pakistan are deficient in energy products but Pakistan enjoys an edge over India due to its proximity with Iran and oil rich Arabian peninsula. IPI is the best option for India, facing a lot of pressure from the US. It faces much less security threats as compared to TAP, passing through war ridden Afghanistan. The US has already agreed to supply nuclear power generation facilities to India to stay away from IPI and also offering incentives for joining TAP.

Being deficient in natural gas India just cannot become a major producer of chemical fertilizer, buying fertilizer from other countries is a better option and Pakistan has the potential to meet Indian demand. And today the GoP has dedicated Mari gas field for fertilizer industry because of lower quality of gas produced from this field. This was determined about five decades back when Esso (now known as Exxon) decided to abandon the field but on the second thought decided to establish urea manufacturing facility at Dharki. This is not the only field producing low quality gas but there are many and such field could be integrated to supply gas capable of supporting urea manufacturing facilities of more than two million tons per annum, bulk of which could be exported to India.

Till recently a lot of Pakistan made cement was bought by India but its movement was curtailed after Mumbai attacks and two terrorist incidents in Lahore. The disruption in movement has deprived India from low cost but superior in quality cement from Pakistan and also created a glut like situation in Pakistan, which does not bode well for both the countries.

Cooperation between India and Pakistan in textile industry could be beneficial for both the countries. India has an elaborate engineering base capable of supplying textile machinery and parts. Similarly, cooperation in automobile industry can be beneficial for both the countries, be it export of CKD/SKD kits or Tata-Nano from India. Pakistan has the potential to export bus, truck and light truck chases to India.

These are just to mention a few examples but potential is enormous. However, no headway could be made without agreeing to the basic policy of non-interference and reinitiating confidence building measures.