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Published Date: Nov 21, 2013

SDPI Press Release (November 21, 2013)

There
is a need for a process-based approach to take the agenda of
India-Pakistan relations forward in a positive way. This was stated by
Mr. TCA Raghavan, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, while delivering
a special lecture on ‘Trends in India-Pakistan Relations’ at the
Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Pakistan (SDPI).

Speaking
at the occasion, Mr. Raghavan expressed that with regards to
India-Pakistan dialogue and engagement, positive developments have
occurred at a higher frequency over the last few years. However, one
should also qualify that, despite certain setbacks, state-level
engagement has continued throughout the shared history of the two
countries in the post-partition period, leading to a number of
agreements and treatises.

He
said that the India’s external engagement is based on domestic
development priorities. He further stressed that India seeks mutually
beneficial relations with all developed as well as developing countries
and that the shared destiny of South Asian nations requires measures for
regional integration. The modern age marked by globalization has led to
avenues that can help in improving India-Pakistan relations. The agenda
for easier mobility of people, capital and trade can go a long way in
preventing conflicts and subduing disputes between India and Pakistan,
to the benefit of the masses at large.

Mr.
Raghavan emphasized that sustained engagement between the two countries
has reaped beneficial results in the past and hence it is necessary to
keep the process of engagement between the two countries steady.
However, there is a need to recognize that these gains have materialized
only with the commitment to ceasefire agreements at the Line of Control
(LoC) and joint resolve to prevent terrorist operations against the
other country. It is also important to dispel the notion that positive
developments occurred historically have not been significant in
improving the relations between India and Pakistan.

The
Ambassador appreciated the positive changes in Pakistan over the last
decade, such as rise of media and strengthening of institutions that can
help in fostering democratic norms in Pakistan. He said that in today’s
world, national interest should be defined in broader ways, without
discounting national security as an integral component. New trends have
started to emerge in the global arena. These new trends, which include
the rise of interaction through popular social media, cyber threats from
an increasingly connected web-world, and rising global demand for
energy, play an important role in foreign policy making the world over today.

Answering
questions from participants, Mr. Raghavan acknowledged the need for
increased people to people interaction between India and Pakistan. Even
though the visa regime remains cumbersome, it has become far more
relaxed over the last few years.  On a question on India’s resolve to
reciprocate measures for peace dialogue by Pakistan, he stated that one
needs to look at alternative avenues for cooperation offered by emerging
trends in technology, travel, and trade. He further stated that the
popular belief that Pakistan is deeply affected by elections and regime
change in India might be exaggerated. The Mumbai attacks, for example,
had occurred just before elections in India. The elections revolved
largely around domestic issues, notwithstanding the terrorist attacks,
on which public sentiment in India continues to be very strong.