An India-Pakistan Detente: What It Could Mean for Sustainable Development in South Asia and Beyond
Toufiq A. Siddiqi
AsiaPacific Issues, No. 75
Honolulu: East-West Center
India and Pakistan have had volatile relations ever since they became independent of Britain in 1947. Frequent hostility has stifled cooperation between the two countries and inhibited development in the region. Recently, however, tensions show signs of easing. In March 2004, India's then prime minister visited Pakistan to attend a South Asian regional summit. Flights, bus service, and cricket matches between the two countries have resumed; India's newly elected government continues to support the process. Peace could bring a wide range of benefits not only to India and Pakistan but to the wider region as well. For example, it could enable cooperation on importing energy via a natural-gas pipeline, which would support environmentally sound development. The improved road and rail system that would necessarily accompany a pipeline would also support the goal of building an Asian highway network and the resurgence of cross-border trade, another likely consequence of détente. These benefits could spread far beyond India and Pakistan into the wider west, central, and south Asian region.