â€œNarendra Modi- led government should stop selling the idea of â€˜quadrilateralâ€™ project of the US, Japan, Australia and India and should join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),â€ Sudheendra Kulkarni, Indian Official said in an opinion piece for The Hindu. He had served at the Indian Prime Minister Office during former premier Atal Bihari Vajpayeeâ€™s tenure. He added that India and Pakistan are one of the worldâ€™s least integrated countries.
He opined while writing for The Hindu, â€œbecause of their unending mutual hostility, South Asia too has become the least integrated region in the world. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is in a coma.â€ He lamented that the ratio of poor people is high in both countries. He revealed, â€œless than $3 billion annually, trade with Pakistan accounts for a meager 0.4% of Indiaâ€™s growing global commerce.â€
Both countries can improve their trade relations keeping aside their traditional. Whenever the possibilities came between these two countries to hold peace talks, Pakistan always puts Kashmir conflict first whereas India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism, hence trade and terror cannot go together. Hence, the prospects of bilateral trade relation never remained smooth. He quoted Indiaâ€™s Chief of Army Staff, Bipin Rawat, â€œOur Army chief General Bipin Rawatâ€™s egregious remark last year about India being ready for a simultaneous two-and-a-half front war with Pakistan and China (the â€œhalf frontâ€ being our own alienated people in Kashmir) has helped solidify an impression that our two large neighbors can never be friendly towards India.â€ he asserted that the basic amenities of every common person can be met only by regional cooperation instead regional rivalry.
Discussing China, Kulkarni wrote, â€œA three-way India-China-Pakistan cooperation is not only necessary but indeed possible, and Chinese President Xi Jinpingâ€™s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) provides a practical framework for such partnership.â€ He added that Modiâ€™s government is being misled by the experts on Chinaâ€™s Belt & Road initiative.
Strained Indo-Pak relations
Both India and Pakistan are neighboring countries and unfortunately have had strained relations since their independence. Since the announcement of Trumpâ€™s South Asia strategy, this relationship has deteriorated. This distrust has resulted in an unintentional arms race which has drained the resources of both countries which could otherwise have been utilized for improving the living standards of poverty ridden populace in both these states.
There is an immediate need to enhance cooperation between the two states. Diplomacy and trade must be used as a first step to improve ties between the two countries. India must not look at CPEC with apprehension. It must accept Pakistanâ€™s indirect offers to become a part of this multi-billion dollar project. CPEC can serve as a basis for improvement of ties which one day might lead to resolution of the Kashmir dispute as well.