A Bright Hope for 2016: India and Pakistan Reconcile

By the Monitor's Board | The Christian Science Monitor, December 27, 2015 | Go to article overview

A Bright Hope for 2016: India and Pakistan Reconcile


the Monitor's Board, The Christian Science Monitor


One of the most hopeful events in 2015 was a surprise visit on Christmas Day between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif. Their power lunch showed a spirit of generosity for the leaders of two nuclear powers so long at odds that South Asia is viewed as the most dangerous place on earth.

While one summit does not make peace, the visit hints that the two countries may now be able to transcend difficult issues of territory, terrorism, religious divide, and national identity.

One possible motivation for the sudden warmth: Both leaders may empathize with the other about the urgent need to tackle poverty rather than allow tensions to hinder economic growth. As the rest of the world has moved toward interdependence, Pakistan and India have remained mired in post-colonial quarrels for 68 years, a result of an awkward and violent partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947.

If the visit leads to further progress in 2016, such as expanded cross-border trade and people-to-people exchanges, the event could go down in history like the warming of relations between Germany and France after World War II. Formal talks between India and Pakistan are due to start in January.

The Dec. 25 visit was not the first time that leaders of the two countries have met. But these two were particularly friendly, holding hands, sharing gifts, and smiling while talking at the home of Mr. Sharif in Lahore during his birthday celebration and his granddaughter's wedding. Over the past year, their diplomats have laid the groundwork for possible rapprochement, making concessions on a few key issues. …

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