Washington: The Obama Administration needs to come out with innovative steps to help Nawaz Sharif, the new Prime Minister of Pakistan in his endeavor to improve relationship with India and fix the country`s fragile economy.
"The stakes are high. If Sharif`s government can stabilize Pakistan`s economy, improve domestic security and normalize relations with neighboring India and Afghanistan, there will be reason for hope that his nuclear-armed country of nearly 200 million people can, in time, remove itself from lists of "failing states" and follow a path to growth, stability and sustainable democracy," Daniel Markey wrote in The Washington Post.
A well know American expert on South Asian affairs, Markey said, "quick wins in these areas could give Sharif the political momentum he needs to tackle other difficult challenges, such as confronting violent extremism and managing relations with the Pakistani military. By helping Sharif achieve his goals, Washington would also improve prospects for bilateral cooperation in other areas, including security."
Markey recommended administration of US President Barack Obama a phased reduction of US tariffs on textiles and apparel for Pakistan and India, conditioned on improvements in Indian-Pakistani trade.
"Simply put, the United States would make it cheaper for India and Pakistan to sell their goods here as long as the two South Asian neighbors knock down existing barriers to trade between their countries," he said.
Acknowledging that there would be stiff resistance from the interested sections in the US, he said the reality is that neither US producers nor consumers would be hurt by Pakistani imports.
"These goods are not currently made in the United States; if anything, the deal would shift some production away from China. Unfortunately, those facts have never been enough to grease the political skids in Washington and secure a Pakistan-only trade deal," he said.
"That`s where India comes in. Indian manufacturers would also benefit from this proposal. Unlike Pakistan, India is quite popular among US members of Congress. A trade deal backed by pro-India, pro-Pakistan and pro-Indo-Pakistani peace groups would have a far better chance of overcoming legislative hurdles in Washington," Markey said.