Soft Power Indian intellectuals call for financial aid to Pakistan

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There has been a growing demand among members of the Indian intelligentsia to use India’s financial aid as a tool for rapprochement with Pakistan. Many view this as an exploitation of Pakistan’s economic faultlines by instruments of Indian soft power. In order to start a new era of relations with Pakistan, activist and columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni has suggested that India should financially help Pakistan in its difficult times.

The former political adviser of ex-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was speaking to India Today TV in Mumbai. “Pakistan is facing a huge balance of payment crisis. They immediately need $12 billion. They are seeking help from the US, China, IMF and other Islamic countries. India is a fast-growing economy. We no longer take help from other countries, but we give loans to other countries. So as a good neighbor we should help Pakistan in this time of crisis,” Kulkarni said.

Kulkarni also suggested talks with army establishment in Pakistan along with the political establishment, as the army is very important in Pakistan. Pakistan has not been a good neighbor but we should not remain prisoners of the past

Talking about the Indian culture and concept of being helping the neighbor when they are in trouble. Kulkarni said, “No doubt we have a troubled relationship with Pakistan. But to change the strained relationship with Pakistan, India should take a step ahead and create a breakthrough. If we take one step, our neighbor would recognize good intentions and reciprocate.”

Kulkarni said that since there is a change of guard in Pakistan, he is optimistic about a positive change in the bilateral ties. “Imran Khan has made some heartening comments about India. Our PM too called him and said India is ready to enter into a new era with Pakistan. These are very important words from our PM,” he said.

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When asked about Pakistan-sponsored terror attacks in the country, Kulkarni said that Pakistan needs to introspect. But he also added that Pakistan is also waging a serious battle against terror and that can be tackled if India indulged in serious and meaningful talks with them.

Kulkarni also suggested talks with army establishment in Pakistan along with the political establishment, as the army is very important in Pakistan. Pakistan has not been a good neighbor but we should not remain prisoners of the past. If we keep talking about the past we could never enter the future,” Kulkarni said.

The economy has always been highlighted as an Achilles heel of Pakistan which has been exploited by external powers to manipulate the country

But Kulkarni’s statements haven’t gone down well with parties like Shiv Sena which has asked the thinker to go to Pakistan. “Pakistan is an enemy nation that is inflicting terror on us and killing our jawans. Mr. Kulkarni wants to strengthen the enemy nation by offering financial help to them? If he is so concerned about Pakistan’s economy, he should go there, take Pakistani citizenship and serve them,” Shiv Sena MLC and spokesperson Manisha Kayande said.

Kulkarni espoused the same in his article in The Quint. He wrote “Should India help Pakistan? Of course, it should. Indeed, it must. If India doesn’t, what is the meaning of Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulating Imran Khan over the phone, after his victory in the elections, and telling him, “We are ready to enter a new era of relations with Pakistan”? Modi also conveyed his “vision of peace and development in the entire neighborhood” during his conversation with Khan.

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This vision does not have a ghost of a chance of becoming a reality in South Asia, without India and Pakistan beginning to cooperate like good neighbors, each showing sensitivity to the other’s concerns.” “Here is how we can help. First of all, as the world’s fifth largest economy, we are now in a position to assist Pakistan. Not many Pakistanis know that India is now an aid-giver, and no longer a mere aid-receiver.

After having been one of the highest recipients of multi-lateral development aid for several decades after independence, India has become a net provider of aid to foreign countries. India’s aid to other developing countries stood at Rs 8,970 crores (nearly USD 1.3 billion) in 2016-17. Of course, given its very healthy level of foreign exchange reserves (USD 425 billion), India can, and should, increase its developmental aid manifold.”

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However, to many observers, this call does not seem a genuine friendly overture but an attempt to use soft power where hard power has failed. The economy has always been highlighted as an Achilles heel of Pakistan which has been exploited by external powers to manipulate the country. Observers assert that these calls attempt to do the same while sowing confusion among the populace of Pakistan at the same time.

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