Drew attention to the four wars fought by these countries over last century, with constant propaganda and tension between the two nations. Questioning the effectiveness of the latest round of peace negotiations since the Mumbai terrorist attack, she argued that “this time Pakistan is more willing to resolve the issues between the two countries… as the conflict is hurting Pakistan more than India.” Although it is difficult to point to a specific reason why “this is the right time,” Baqai explained that unlike previous engagements “this time all key stakeholders are on board.” Ongoing changes in the Pakistani Civil Military relations are another important factor increasing the possibility of achieving peace. There has been “increasing accountability in the Pakistani military, which is seen in the media’s and judiciary institutions’ growing trust” in that institution. As she noted, even though Pakistan is a democracy, the military establishment exerts a major influence in Pakistan.

The situation in Afghanistan and other related global events have also had a significant influence on Pakistan-US relationships which may impact the Indo-Pak relations. According to Baqai, “Pakistan exists between two fast growing economies and it should build on this momentum, especially since there have been “major paradigm shifts that are resulting in strengthening democracy in Pakistan, which will favorably impact regional equations.” Although the US has provided Pakistan with regional support, the present relationship between the US and Pakistan has had “no constructive impact on improving our relations with India.” Baqai argued that in order to improve Pakistan-India relations, the US must stop trying to “micromanage” Pakistan. There is definitely a major change in Pakistan as even the most aggressive lobbies, which were “willing to fight until their last breath,” are now supporting peace negotiations, seeking to a political resolution to the conflict.

Baqai argued that terrorism is not an option – “Pakistan is not only functioning under international search lights, Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism… and there has been a definite change in mindset and accountability.” Yet, as peace between India and Pakistan seems more achievable – seeing “antagonism turning into accommodation” – she expressed concern that the “warzone has moved to Afghanistan. As she explained, this area must become “a zone of cooperation… Pakistan cannot live with two hostile borders.”

Concluding her remarks, Baqai stressed that business can help the peace building process. Arguing that trade between Pakistan and India is a “win-win situation,” she underscored that both sides would benefit from improved business relationships. “India has a middle class of 3 million people, and just 10% of the Indian market would double Pakistan’s trade volume with India. Yet despite the fact that India’s foreign direct investments and liberalized visa agreements are promising, she cautioned that increased trade alone is not enough to achieve peace.

“Other important issues must be also addressed if we are to achieve peace, such as water, and the tensions related to Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Kashmir, and Siachen Glacier.” She pointed out that Pakistan must also show complete commitment to the fight against terrorism and prove our sincerity in meeting these challenges. Reflecting on her recent trip to India, Baqai emphasized that while the situation is changing – there is more talk of increasing trade, ending war – “unless the issues that are held important by both sides – terrorism for India, Kashmir for Pakistan – are embraced, it is doubtful that the relations between the two countries will, in fact, move forward.”

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