Pakistan sees hope and fear in Modi win

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by Glint, May 26, 2014.

  1. Glint

    Glint Regular Member

    Mar 22, 2014
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    California, USA
    Islamabad, Pakistan - The massive election win of the right-wing nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, led by hardliner Narendra Modi, in India's recently concluded general elections has set alarm bells in neighbouring Pakistan, but there is also a cautious optimism about improving ties between the two South Asian countries.

    Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif telephoned Modi to congratulate him on the "impressive victory" after the BJP swept parliament. Modi, in kind, has invited Sharif to attend his swearing in ceremony - an unusual occurrence for the two nuclear armed neighbours, who have fought three full scale wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

    On Saturday, Sharif accepted that invitation, and he is now also slated to hold a bilateral meeting with prime minister-elect Modi, who relied heavily on Hindu nationalist and sometimes anti-Pakistan rhetoric during his campaign.

    The BJP leader repeatedly promised to be less tolerant of what India sees as Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism on its soil.

    However, there is room for optimism, analysts say, as long as the campaign rhetoric does not migrate to the prime minister’s office.

    "While Modi may need to sound tough in a bid to appease the hardliners within his party, peace with Pakistan will be a necessity for his economic and developmental agenda," Raza Rumi, a senior fellow at Islamabad’s Jinnah Institute, told Al Jazeera.

    Rumi along with many other analysts argues that with two right-wing governments in place in both countries, there is more room to manoeuvre in the often tricky relationship, where real politik, economics and security must all be balanced with nationalist fervor.

    Sherry Rehman, a former Pakistani legislator and former ambassador to the US, told Al Jazeera that the tone of the relationship will depend on how much "value Modi places on ideology and identity", given a campaign that leaned heavily on appealing to Hindu majority nationalism and communal identity.

    Nevertheless, given his mandate, Rehman is hopeful that the prime minister-elect will be able to take further strides than previous governments, including the one led by the outgoing Congress party under Manmohan Singh.

    "Modi is better placed than any other government since the Rajiv Gandhi government to make history if he so chooses. He has the blockbuster mandate, and need not be hamstrung by the Lok Sabha [lower House of parliament], like (Manmohan) Singh often was, in pursing promises made to Pakistan," she said.

    Potential for trade deal

    Sharif ran his electoral campaign last year, as Modi has this year, on a primarily economic platform: promising greater growth and investment in badly-needed infrastructure projects. Modi's tenure as chief minister of western Gujarat state between 2001 and 2014 is equally coloured by both the 2002 religious riots which left more than 1,000 dead, and a perception that he delivered efficiency and economic growth

    One of Sharif's key promises in May last year were to open up trade with India, the regional economic power, with whom Pakistan's trade is currently hamstrung by restrictions and an almost complete ban on trade in services.

    At present, the bilateral trade stands at approximately $2bn, with $1.7bn of that represented by Indian exports, and $350m in Pakistani exports. Informal, untaxed trade, analysts told Al Jazeera, is likely a further $2bn.

    The potential is for overall trade to grow to $9-11bn if the two countries were to finalise long-debated Most Favoured Nation (MFN) or Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) agreements, Dr Vaqar Ahmed, a research fellow at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute who has also worked with the government on the deals, told Al Jazeera.

    The Pakistani government has been pushing for those agreements since it came to power in May last year, but the signing of the documents has repeatedly been held up. Nonetheless, limited trade over land routes has continued, with cheap Pakistani cement from Dera Ghazi Khan fuelling a construction boom across the eastern border in Indian Punjab, for example.

    Analysts believe that Pakistan, being the smaller economy, has more to gain by the deal in relative terms.

    "The smaller country always gains in terms of import savings, technology transfer as well as access to new markets. India […] will gain in export terms, because obviously their export supply capacity is more than [Pakistan's]. But we should not be afraid of this," Ahmed, who is based in the capital, Islamabad, said.

    He said that, while India stands to gain an estimated $6-7bn in exports from any favourable market access in Pakistan, the larger country's robust economy "is not dying for it".

    "Now look at this in Pakistan's terms. So in your terms, your market access in places like Africa is difficult […] and your markets are closed in the Far East, while you cannot access Central Asia. India, who is your next door neighbour, is your prime opportunity. Just like China was three or four years ago. […] For Pakistan, that $3-4bn in new exports is a very big deal."

    Pakistan sees hope and fear in Modi win - Features - Al Jazeera English

    The comment section is real fun to read.

    Muslims majority nations nedd more secular views then Israel or India or any nation, today 2104 Islam teaches still lot of hate and do not respect other faiths in world and they need more tolerant views then any other faith

    Did you drink cow PE E today?

    Probably he slept with your mother.

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