Permitting Pak FDI
Take the CBMs to logical conclusion
Anything that relates to India-Pakistan affairs, even if it is a well intentioned step, raises heckles of both the harbingers of peace and the prophets of doom. There are three aspects to any reaction to such a situation: The India perspective, the Pakistan perception and the Kashmiri reaction. Any and every peace effort or what in the current perspective is being described as the Confidence Building Measure, has to encounter or better put fulfil these dimensions to be rated as successful.
Given the air of uncertainty and distrust that exists in the Indian sub-continent (vis-a-vis India and Pakistan) it will be naive both politically and otherwise to measure the rate of success on any barometer. Under the circumstances there cannot be any. The C BMs in the Indo-Pak context have different meaning altogether. The concept, at this stage, has to be measured in terms of intentions on both sides rather than immediately calculating its economic benefits or positive results.
This debate has been triggered afresh by New Delhi’s decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment from Pakistan which is being considered as a major CBM. The decision will permit Pakistani individuals and firms to invest in India and decidedly has far more positive connotations than merely being viewed as a political gesture. It is a move that has the potential to drastically reshape the Pakistani economy. But more than that in this economy driven world it has far greater scope of not only reducing distance between the two economies but also bringing the people nearer.
On a more positive note, it is heartening to note that the move which had been on the cards for quite-sometime has not evoked any sharp reaction from the prophets of doom on either side of the International Border or for that reason in Kashmir or across the LOC. Given the hullaballoo Pakistan Government’s decision to grant Most Favoured Nation status to India had created, which ultimately forced Islamabad to retract, situation in the context of the FDI is far more encouraging.
There is no denying the fact that the road ahead for the implementation of such policy decisions is much difficult. But a strong political will, on both the sides, and clear intention can work wonders. The onus lies more on Pakistan in such matters as it also has the onerous task of erasing the strong international perception of being the fomenter of terrorism in its various forms.
Again, it is heartening to see that the bilateral measures on the Indo-Pak front are being more pragmatically viewed in Kashmir and there are no knee-jerk reactions. Reaction or no reaction, it remains a fact that all such measures are looked upon in this region with an air of suspicion. Seeking K-factor all the time in the Indo-Pak bilateral matters may not be feasible but there is no harm to keep reminding the two major players about the fact that the issue has to be dwelt at some stage.
To calculate the FDI move merely in terms of the economic benefits it can immediately accrue to Pakistan is undesirable. After all, Pakistan is not exactly known as a major source of FDI investment in any part of the world. It can in the long run pay economic dividends and help Symbolism followed by good-intentioned follow-up can go a long way to deliver positives Islamabad to bring its economy back on the rails with the help of the huge Indian market.
The amounts of capital the Pakistani companies or individuals investing in India will probably not be very big, at least not in the initial years. But being able to “invest” in India is not only a licence to freely to do business in India but also has the potential to deal a huge psychological blow to the elements inimical to good ties between the two countries.
As stated above, Indo-Pak ties are a different ball-game wherein even symbolism has great significance. The Cross-border trader across the LoC was definitely a symbolic step with a greater potential to open new vistas of economics and trade in the region in the long run. But, ultimately, what went missing was the good intention. It has almost become a non-starter as certain follow-up steps have not been taken and promises remained unfulfilled. It is imperative on the part of Islamabad to address India’s security concerns and equally incumbent on New Delhi to not permit any obstacle coming in the way of dialogue.
The spirit of bilateralism should grow stronger and it can happen only if all the CBMs are adopted on a mutually agreeable agenda and nor force driven from elsewhere. These should be implemented in letter and spirit. No CBM will succeed on ground if terrorist threat perception is not taken into account simultaneously. It brings special responsibility on Pakistan for reasons best known to the powers that be in Islamabad.
(The author is New Delhi Bureau Chief of Greater Kashmir. Feedback at: email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Sun, 5 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 5 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 6 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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