By: Tara Beteille, co-authors: Kalpana Kochhar
In our blog post last November, we discussed Pakistan’s decision to grant India most favored nation (MFN) status. We were hopeful about the gains from easier trade between the two, but noted the many stumbling blocks in between. In the past 20 weeks, both countries have made serious efforts to address these blocks. Things are looking good. Here is an update.
Both countries mean business
In addition to the goodwill gesture of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visiting India this April and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh considering visiting Pakistan, important issues addressed include:
- Pakistan issued an order in March 2012 to move from a positive list of 2,000 items for India to a negative list of 1,209 banned items. Pakistan intends to phase out the negative list altogether and formally give India MFN status by the end of 2012.
- India, which formally granted Pakistan MFN status in 1996 (but maintained barriers) has agreed to reduce its sensitive list of 865 items by 30% within four months. India has also agreed in principle to allow Pakistani foreign direct investment in the country.
- Both countries recently agreed to allow yearlong multiple-entry visas for business visitors, with visitors allowed to enter and exit through different cities.
- The two countries have agreed to allow each other’s central banks – the Reserve Bank of India and the State Bank of Pakistan – to open bank branches across borders to facilitate financial transactions and ensure smooth trade.
- A second checkpost gate was inaugurated this March at the Attari-Wagah border to ease road traffic between the two countries. The checkpost, with elaborate security features and capable of accommodating 600 trucks at a time, will provide upgraded infrastructure, including new storage go-downs, wide roads, and a luxurious passenger terminal.
Opportunities and gains
Making borders irrelevant can have far-reaching effects for economic prosperity across sectors in Pakistan and India. Consider a key driver of growth: electricity. South Asia’s recent More and Better Jobs flagship report estimated that industrial load shedding in Pakistan has resulted in the loss of 400,000 jobs. Trade between energy surplus and deficit regions could counter such losses — indeed, Pakistan is already in negotiations with India to import up to 500 MW of electricity.
Continue reading India-Pakistan Trade: Making Borders Irrelevant
by Wichaar Analysis
Sunni Tehreek, that includes the Brailvi sect of Indian Muslims, was the last straw that broke the religious tolerance’s camel’s back. Now, it can be safely said that there is no tolerant Islami sect among Pakistani Muslims: they have all become ritualistic and part of Mullah Shahi.
The Sunnis, particularly Brailvis were the least politicized by political Islam. Following the Sufi traditions faith was purely personal belief for them. However, the temptation of power and fame (or notoriety) of political Islam was hard to resist for Mullahs even of Brailvi sect. When they saw JI and JUI leaders like Liqat Baluch and Fazalur Rehman regularly appearing on the TV talk shows and rubbing shoulders with most powerful people they thought that they were majority and yet ignored. Therefore, they had to venture into political Islam and TNR was a perfect excuse for them.
As a matter of fact the Brailvis had abandoned the Sufi tradition long ago. They had become a ritualistic sect who took ‘khatam, drood’ as their basic distinction. The Sufi shrines had become the jagirs (estates) of sajjada nashins who were running them like feudal dynasties. The trend had started much earlier in the history. Baba Farid and his nominated leader of Chishtia sect, Nizamud Din Aulia had refused to see kings and their men. However, great grand sons of Baba Farid joined the Tugliq’s and were awarded a huge estate in Pakpattan. It was a noteworthy estate when Ranjeet Singh conquered Punjab and he had to negotiate with the then sajjada nasheen.
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Blasphemy Law: Mullahs fighting each other for political gains (2 JI) – Wichaar Analysis
The prime mover of TNR is Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), the mother of most theocratic and extremist religious trends. JI is another case of fake contender of ideology of Pakistan. The party opposed the creation of Pakistan tooth and nail and issued fatwas against Mohammad Ali Jinnah. By the way it got foothold in Punjab courtesy of Allama Mohammad Iqbal. A landlord Chauhdry Barkat Ali had asked Allama Iqbal to recommend a suitable Islamic organization who can take his estate in Pathankot. Allama Iqbal recommended Maulana Maudodi and this is how JI expanded its base in Punjab. This one of the reason that I feel that JI cadres and Taliban are Iqbal’s ‘Shaheens.’
Presently, JI is competing for influence for itself but that is its secondary goal versus Fazalur Rehman whose main goal is political power. For JI, TNR is a vehicle to keep religious parties united and to slowly dismantle what is left of the secular institutions of the state. Taliban and other jihadi groups very well fit in its strategy to undo the system. Therefore, while Taliban and other jihadis keep the state engaged with guns JI provides a political cover to them. …
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