Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s recent visit to India to attend an SCO conference has sparked renewed interest in the state of bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. The exchange between Mr. Bhutto-Zardari and his Indian counterpart, S. Jaishankar, at the meeting of foreign ministers, has revealed the deep-seated mistrust and suspicion that continue to characterise the relationship between the two countries.
Countering the False Narrative
In his statement upon returning home, Mr. Bhutto-Zardari cited “a sense of insecurity” as the reason behind the incensed remarks by Mr. Jaishankar. He also claimed to have “countered the false narrative” of the Narendra Modi government that every Muslim was a terror suspect and exposed Delhi’s history of defiance of bilateral and international agreements.
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These remarks reflect the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan, which have been exacerbated by the rise of Hindu nationalism in India and the corresponding increase in anti-Pakistan sentiment. The two countries have a long history of conflict and mistrust, and efforts to improve bilateral relations have been repeatedly derailed by acts of terrorism, cross-border infiltration, and territorial disputes.
Cross-Border Terrorism and Other Issues
Mr. Jaishankar’s remarks at the SCO meeting, in which he called for an end to cross-border terrorism, were a clear reference to Pakistan, who India has accused of supporting terrorist groups that operate in Indian-administered Kashmir. India’s insistence on linking terrorism with Pakistan has been a major obstacle to improving bilateral relations, as Pakistan has repeatedly denied any involvement in terrorist activities and has called for dialogue and cooperation to address the issue.
In addition to the issue of terrorism, India and Pakistan have several other outstanding issues that have contributed to the strain in their relationship. These include the disputed territory of Kashmir, the issue of water sharing, and the treatment of minorities in both countries. The recent spate of border skirmishes and ceasefire violations has only added to the tensions between the two countries.
The Way Forward
Despite the challenges facing the India-Pakistan relationship, there are reasons for hope. Both countries have much to gain from cooperation and dialogue, particularly in the areas of trade, energy, and regional stability. The recent agreement on the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, which allows Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit a historic gurdwara in Pakistan, was a positive development that demonstrated the potential for cooperation between the two countries.
However, any progress in improving bilateral relations will require a concerted effort by both sides to address the underlying issues and overcome the mistrust that has plagued the relationship for decades. India and Pakistan must find a way to move beyond the rhetoric of blame and accusation and engage in meaningful dialogue to find solutions to their shared problems.
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Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s recent visit to India has highlighted the ongoing tensions and mistrust between India and Pakistan. The exchange between Mr. Bhutto-Zardari and Mr. Jaishankar at the SCO meeting underscores the deep-seated differences and divergent perspectives that continue to divide the two countries. However, the way forward for India and Pakistan lies in cooperation and dialogues. While the road ahead may be difficult, it is important for India and Pakistan to work together to find solutions to their shared problems and build a more peaceful and stable future for the region.