Pakistan's new Prime Minister Imran Khan received a letter from his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi a few days ago suggesting the need for constructive engagement with one another, which follows Prime Minister Khan's victory speech last month in which he also spoke about the importance of this happening. Occurring in between both leaders' messages was the Minister of Local Government, Tourism, Cultural Affairs, and Museums of India's state of Punjab Navjot Singh Sidhu attending his friend and former fellow cricketer Prime Minister Khan's recent inauguration and hugging the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Although this generated intense controversy within Indian society, it was popularly interpreted by the Pakistanis as a sincere gesture of goodwill and an auspicious sign of a possible willingness on the Indian side to enter into a rapprochement with their country.
Interestingly, both sides are also unprecedentedly participating in multilateral anti-terrorist drills in Russia right now as part of the SCO's "Peace Mission", but this is a rare example of indirect cooperation at a time when tensions between the two have been running very high over the past few years. India accuses Pakistan of assisting Kashmiri militants, while Islamabad has said the same about New Delhi when it comes to Balochistan, although both sides deny their rival's claims and also assert that the situations are incomparable. India's strict position towards this issue has seen the SAARC regional integration bloc rendered dysfunctional in recent years, and it also strongly objects to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor transiting through northern Pakistani territory that it claims as its own.
Pakistan, for its part, is very concerned that India is imperiling the strategic balance between these two nuclear-armed states by pursuing state-of-the-art anti-air and —missile systems that threaten Islamabad's nuclear second-strike capabilities.
Even so, at least judging by appearances, it looks like both sides are somewhat interested in reaching an understanding with one another to stabilize the South Asia region, which would of course be in every responsible player's best interests. Relieving pressure along the border would allow each country to focus more on domestic economic development at a time when their region is one of the fastest-growing and most promising in the world. It could also set into motion further moves that might strengthen the sometimes fraught relationship between India and China, which would naturally be beneficial for multipolarity and its attendant institutions of BRICS and the SCO. That being said, the problems between India and Pakistan are very deep-rooted and will be extremely difficult to overcome.
Andrew Korybko is joined by Zamir Awan, geopolitical analyst who focuses on the region and places a special emphasis on China, which has made him a popular writer in Chinese mainstream media and Unisa Qader, supporter of subcontinental reunification.
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