Hardliners Must Be Sidelined for Pakistan and India to Thrive
There is a current MP in India who has taken death threats for taking a stand against hardline activists and saying he wishes for peaceful and prosperous relations between India and Pakistan.
This is shameful and should forcefully be rebuked by everybody in power in both India and Pakistan.
Those death threats should also in no way influence anybody in positions of authority on how they approach relations between the two countries, as an overly aggressive and hostile approach ought to be considered an absolute non-starter on either the Pakistani or Indian side.
To that end, I was glad to see that Imran Khan — who has just officially been sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan – is already rejecting the agenda of the hardliners.
There have been longstanding tensions between Pakistan and India, which was one of the biggest issues the incoming Prime Minister would be tasked with handling. And he has already taken a major step in doing so. Khan has already reached out to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to try to create a positive diplomatic relationship.
India Express had all the details of their first conversation and they seemed to be of a very positive nature: “Sources said that the phone conversation between Modi and Khan took place at 9 pm, though the duration of the call was not revealed. ‘They recalled their meeting in December 2015 and conversation from that time…and hoped to pick up the thread from there,’ a top source told The Indian Express. ‘Prime Minister expressed hope that democracy will take deeper roots in Pakistan,’ said an official statement by the Ministry of External Affairs, indicating India’s support to the democratic process in Pakistan, where political parties have expressed concerns over its fairness. Modi, according to the MEA statement, also ‘reiterated his vision of peace and development in the entire neighbourhood’ — which is in line with his government’s stated objective of ‘neighbourhood first policy’ and ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’ in the South Asian context.”
Make no mistake; this is a terrific development for both nations. And thankfully for Khan, as he continues to navigate his way through the process of trying to improve relations with India, he has Pervaiz Elahi on his side. Elahi has the experience necessary to be a major asset to the Khan government.
Elahi is a former Chief Minister of Punjab and deputy Prime Minister of Pakistan whose party was just re-elected to the National Assembly.
Not only does he have great relationships with other assembly members, he has longstanding relations with diplomats from other countries as well.
I have personally spoken to diplomats in the U.S., EU, and Islamabad, and have been assured by those of all different political agendas that they welcome the chance to work with Elahi.
This will be an enormous asset to the Khan government and will offer the opportunity for both countries to ease tensions and expand economic possibilities for both countries in the form of increased mutual investment, trade, and new jobs.
This is why the hardliners must be defeated and swept out in both Pakistan and India. There is too much to be gained from a strong relationship between the two countries and everything to lose if the tensions are exacerbated in any real way.
Imran Khan already took his first step in this direction by having a positive conversation with Prime Minister Modi, and with both Elahi and General Bajwa at his side, there is no doubt that the possibilities for great results are endless.
It has never been more obvious to me that the Pakistani people made the right choice with Khan. Hopefully this is just the beginning of many years of peace and prosperity to come for both Pakistan and India.