Imran Khan will soon be Pakistan’s new leader. And he has big plans for Pakistan. One of them is to make peace with India.
“If India takes one step, Pakistan will take two,” he was quoted as saying recently.
Peace among neighbors is always a good thing. In the case of India and Pakistan, it will ease nationalist-driven violence on both ends. And it will foster economic cooperation that will help attract foreign capital.
That’s something both countries need as they try to sustain economic growth, especially Pakistan, which is mired in foreign debt, and large government and current account deficits.
India’s Equity Markets Have Outperformed Emerging Markets, As Pakistan’s Are Lagging
|ETF||1-month (%)||3-years (%)|
|iShares India 50 (INDY)||7||25.65|
|Global X MSCI Pakistan (PAK)||2||18.14|
|iShares MSCI Markets (EEM)||3.1||-29.34|
Source: Finance.yahoo.com 8/6/2018
But is it realistic to believe that the two countries will overcome crony territorial differences (e.g., Kashmir), and live in peace?
LIU Post Professor Udayan Roy things so, at least as far as the Indian and Pakistani people are concerned. Pakistan’s new leader is an idol in India. “Imran Khan, when he was playing cricket, was a cricket idol to every kid, including me, in India (not to mention Pakistan),” says Roy. “Both India and Pakistan are cricket-crazy nations, and Imran Khan was idolized everywhere. So, there is a lot of goodwill towards him.”
Besides, Imran Khan is an open-minded politician. “He was educated at Oxford in England,” adds Roy. “Although he has made political alliances with hardline Islamic parties, I think he is probably a lot more broad-minded than most Pakistani politicians.”
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for Modi. “Modi is a big problem,” continues Roy.“He is a hardline Hindu nationalist, and it is unlikely that Modi will give up Kashmir.”
While Hindu nationalism is a problem on the one side, Pakistani generals is a problem on the other. “Another problem — in this case, in Pakistan — is that foreign relations have NEVER been controlled by the civilian leadership,” adds Roy. “Foreign relations have ALWAYS been controlled by the Pakistani army. I would be astonished if Imran Khan can take control of the India-Pakistan relationship; on this issue, I think he will basically have to do what the generals tell him to do.”
That’s why Roy will be “surprised if there is any major improvement in India-Pakistan relations.”
Political analyst Ananthu Raju agrees.
“I do not think that there will be a dramatic change in the equation between India and Pakistan after election of Imran Khan,” says Raju. “The fact that the Pakistan army favored him during the election time and wanted to ensure defeat of Navaz Sharif’s party points out that Imran may not be able to swing much even though he wish to do it.