Thursday 24th Jan 2019
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New Sunshine over Pakistan


Pakistan, after recent elections in the centre and the states, has entered a new phase of stronger democracy. It is a good omen for the 18 crore strong Muslim nation which holds the second rank among the Muslim countries and is the only nuclear power among them.

Its results have been welcomed by Indian leaders and opinion makers as we want cordial relations with our neighbour. It was a positive gesture on the part of our Prime Minister that he has invited the would-be Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif to pay a visit to India. Nawaz Sharif had made it clear during the election campaign that he wants good relations with India and would pick up the thread from where he had left it in 1999.

India has a big stake in a stable, strong and democratic Pakistan. It is in our interest to have good relations with all our neighbours, including Pakistan. By this we can reduce our defence expenditure which is around 18 per cent of our central budget and divert our resources towards poverty alleviation. The Pakistanis should think about reducing their defence outlay which is about one-third of their federal budget. One can choose his friends but not neighbours. Pakistan is destined to be our neighbour. It should be our friend and not an adversary or a thorn in our side. It is also welcome that Nawaz Sharif has promised to take to logical conclusion the joint judicial probe about involvement of Pakistan elements in the infamous Mumbai attack. Likewise, India also should stop extending help to anti-Pakistan elements there. More confidence building measures on the part of both countries will pave the way for permanent peace, less defence expenditure, more trade and greater cooperation.

One big task faced by Pakistan is containing the extremist trends and presenting the real image of Islam which is peace loving and human friendly. Certain elements like Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had vowed to derail elections and they would be at it even after formation of the new government. It would be a real test for Nawaz Sharif to adopt a policy of national reconciliation and accommodation to satisfy all sections of society.

Sharif has the stupendous task of rebuilding economy which is in tatters. He has to contain rampant corruption, widespread lawlessness, target killings, violence, ethnic clashes and religious extremism.

India wishes “God speed” to Pakistan and Indian Muslims want Pakistan to be a model of Islamic brotherhood, human values, peace and prosperity. Let the new sunshine over Pakistan brighten the lives of our neighbour and let there be mutual trust, permanent peace and meaningful cooperation between these two South Asian neighbours and their inhabitants.

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