by Swaraj Chauhan
President Asif Ali Zardari is Pakistan’s first head of state to promise a “no-first nuclear-strike” against India. He talked of the need for change and reconciliation in India-Pakistan relationship, and the possibility of doing away with passports for travel between two countries.
The surprise statement came when Zardari was addressing the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit at New Delhi on Saturday via a satellite link from his official residence in Islamabad. Telecast live from India by CNN-IBN, the session was picked up simultaneously by news channels in Pakistan.
“Zardari borrowed a quote from his late wife (Benazir Bhutto), who once said that there’s a ‘little bit of India in every Pakistani and a little bit of Pakistan’ in every Indian. He also talked about Indians’ and Pakistanis’ ‘shared bloodlines’.
” ‘I do not know whether it is the Indian or the Pakistani in me that is talking to you today,’ Zardari said, amid applause from his high-profile audience, which included diplomats, politicians and industrialists.
“The President also talked of a common South Asian economic bloc with other countries. He suggested a ‘flexible Indo-Pak visa regime’, eliminating the travel documents now required and replacing them with a smart-card enabled e-visa system.” More here…
The deteriorating relationship with the US administration seems to be prompting Pakistani leaders to abandon the traditional 60-year-old bitter rivalry with India. India and Pakistan have a shared heritage going back to centuries. But that came to an abrupt end in 1947 with the end of the British colonial rule and a bloody partition.
“Polls show that the U.S. already faces ‘mounting popular opposition’ in Pakistan, which has not been significantly influenced by the election of a new civilian government in February,” wrote Jim Hoagland in July 2008 under the heading “India the Key to U.S.-Pakistan Relationship” in RealClearPolitics.
“Pakistani politicians, civil servants and military men have told me in recent months that open ‘collaboration’ with the United States is so ‘dangerous’ that they cannot afford to be seen working with the U.S.
“India’s growing economic power will leave its neighbor in the dust unless Pakistan becomes part of that prosperity. Pakistan’s future will be determined by its relations with India, not by increased U.S. aid or maintaining its support for tribal war in Afghanistan.” More here…
The New York Times has an interesting take on India-Pakistan-US tangle…Please click here.
Courtesy: The Global Voice