THERE is a need to adopt a negotiated approach among the Third World countries. Pakistan has finally decided to engage in a dialogue with India over the Siachen issue.
A few would disagree with the analysis that Pakistan’s foreign policy has always been overshadowed by rivalry with its neighbour, India. Kashmir has remained a bone of contention between the strategically-important Pakistan and economically-empowered India.
Both countries are spending huge amounts of money in order to swell their defence budgets. Bilateral and multilateral diplomacy seems to be the only solution for resolving outstanding issues.
Both countries have hardly ever used bilateral or multilateral diplomacy. It is imperative to utilise regional associations for developing a symbiotic relationship between states at a regional level without undermining their sovereign status.
With regards to Pakistan and India, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation can be considered a good option for the purpose of ‘accommodative diplomacy’.
Undoubtedly, the association has remained a debating platform since its establishment.
It has played a pivotal role to accentuate common issues and regional interdependence among the South Asian countries.
India being the second most populous country in the world, an emerging economy and a potential market, has left its neighbours with no other option except to live with it as good as they can.
The Siachen issue is often referred to as a ‘dispute within a dispute’ and for this reason it is intertwined with various factors. It is imperative to mutually decide and allocate the defence budget, keeping in view the resources of all the South Asian countries.
All the countries should only spend the amount decided for the purpose of their defence.
Through dialogue and negotiation both Pakistan and India should withdraw their troops from what is considered the world’s highest battlefield. Being an observer state of Saarc and Pakistan’s ‘all-weather friend’, China can become a mediator between Pakistan and India for transforming Siachen into a peace park.
On the other hand, India should remain flexible and comprehend the diplomatic intricacies of the South Asian region which directly affect its development, prosperity and survival.
Originally published in Dawn newspaper on April 27, 2012.