The man who has toppled twice as Pakistan PM, jailed and even exiled, has now been elected again to serve as Pakistan’s Prime Minister. About a decade ago, it is this very man who stood at the Indo-Pakistan border with archenemy India to help inaugurate a ‘friendship’ bus service which was introduced to connect the two rival countries in a hope to reconcile ties.
It is now hoped that PM Sharif will yet again work at sweetening ties between the two countries. It is likely that he will take bold actions like he did in the past to improve relations with India, thereby reducing the chances of another major way between the nuclear-armed foes. This confidence comes about because of Sharif’s previous attempts at reaching out to India in a bid to forge better ties. In the past, these efforts were undermined by Pakistan’s powerful army. Sharif is geared up to helping Pakistan recover its tumbling economy and forging closer ties with India would help increase amount of trade between the two countries. By making peace with India, Sharif could also benefit from reducing threat posed by India, thereby reducing the clout of the army in Pakistan.
Sharif told reporters that he is keen on picking up where he left off back in 1999. This is what he has in mind to improve ties between Pakistan and India.
Given that Sharif has publicly articulated his intentions to forge better ties between the two rival countries, India’s political leaders and media have also taken this in a positive light. India has repeatedly been frustrated by Pakistan’s attempt to attack India and its failure to crack down on Lashkar-e-Tayyeba. In this regard, Sharif has vowed that such an incident will not repeat again.
Given the promises made by the newly elected Prime Minister, there will be many watchful eyes seeing if he manages to keep up to his words. If he indeed works on what he hopes to achieve, India and Pakistan stand to mutually benefit from each other. The quickly he gets to work on this, the more confident India will become on Pakistan’s seriousness about forging genuine ties. India Pakistan could also stand to benefit considerably if Sharif works on improving economic ties between the two sides by opening more border crossing. This way, more cargo could ply between the two countries. Many political observers purport that they are optimistic that Sharif will be able to improve Pakistan’s relations with India. However, at the same time, they claim that one should be realistic and not hope for an immediate crackdown on Lashkar-e-Tayyeba issue or a Kashmir settlement.
Once Sharif gets cracking on his work laid out for him, it will be interesting to watch the events that unfold with regard to India and Pakistan foreign relations.