What's the article about?
- It talks about the recent peace talks offered by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif last week.
- GS2: India and its Neighborhood- Relations; India-Pakistan;
- Recently in an interview with Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV, Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif called for ‘serious and sincere talks’ with the Prime Minister of India on ‘burning issues like Kashmir’.
- He further remarked that Pakistan “had learnt a lesson from three wars” with India and wants to “live in peace with India”.
- In this article, the writer argues that India should not miss this opportunity to establish peace with our neighbour.
Why is Pakistan offering peace talk now?
- There are multiple reasons for this.
- Politically, Mr. Sharif has to face elections later this year, and continues to be challenged by the opposition led by former leader Imran Khan.
- Economically, Pakistan is in imminent danger of a debt default, and is being held together by assurances of support from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and China, as well as hopes that its IMF bailout package will come through with the adoption of more austerity measures.
- Pakistan also faces a growing terror threat from its Afghan border, where despite having a friendly regime in control, there are clashes particularly with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan fighters.
- There is an understanding, on part of Pakistan, that India is not responsible for Pakistan’s current state of affairs, and an engagement of some sort would benefit the government there.
What is India’s stand on this peace talks offer?
- India wants “normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan” provided there is a conducive atmosphere devoid of “terrorism, hostility or violence”.
- This suggests that Delhi continues to hold its position, but does not wish to snub Mr. Sharif’s offer either.
Why should India not miss this opportunity?
- First, India is going to host the SCO summit this summer.
- Thus invitations are going out to ensure participation by Pakistan for the major meetings, and a more cordial relationship will ensure a smoother ride.
- Second, India’s G-20 presidency, and its desire to promote the concerns of the Global South amidst the Ukraine war, would also benefit from peace in the neighbourhood.
- It remains to be seen whether the Pakistani PM’s words were only made for effect, or with a genuine desire to push for talks.
- At a time when the government is advising Russia and Ukraine for “dialogue and diplomacy” and is seeking to engage the Taliban out of “pragmatism”, it would seem contradictory to refuse such a chance for enhancing regional stability, especially during a year when India’s role as a statesman is being highlighted.
- India – Pakistan Relations
- India-Pakistan Trade Ties
- India’s stake in US-PAK Deal for Afghan Peace Process