Optimism over Sharif`s overtures towards India misplaced: Cohen
Despite the initial optimism over Nawaz Sharif`s overtures towards India, the fact is that the Prime Minister "doesn`t make all the policies in Pakistan himself", a leading American author and South Asia expert has said.
Islamabad: Despite the initial optimism over Nawaz Sharif`s overtures towards India, the fact is that the Prime Minister "doesn`t make all the policies in Pakistan himself", a leading American author and South Asia expert has said.
"The business communities, the military intellectuals, the Islamist parties, they all have a role in this, and in a sense he can`t wish something to happen and it`ll happen," Stephen P Cohen said.
Explaining his reservations regarding a possible detente between India and Pakistan the subject of his new book, `Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum` Cohen believes that Sharif might simply have too much on his plate.
"He is trying to establish a new relationship with the army, a new relationship with India, a new relationship with the US. If he did any one of those things in 3-4 years, it will be a major accomplishment. But to try and do all of them, while trying to rebuild the economy, is a big task," he said in an interview to Express Tribune daily.
On Pakistan-India ties, Cohen has a dark outlook.
"It is important to get them to understand that they’re both digging a hole for each other." However, the people of both countries do want change and friendly relations.
Can a miracle happen? "Don`t wait for miracles. Hope is not a policy," he responds. "It`s like looking into a pool of water; on the surface it may be calm, or moving in one direction but underneath it may be flowing in another. So it`s more complex than you can imagine."
Short-term trends are not indicative of what the long- term trends are going to be, according to Cohen. "I think in the long term, the positive trends are a youth generation and freer press in both countries and political parties generally being in support of normalisation. Certainly in Pakistan all of them are except for the extreme right wing."
He added that the Indians have to reciprocate to Pakistan`s overtures. "It takes two to tango". Meanwhile, Dawn daily in an editorial said Prime Minister Sharif has been in office for five months now and it is time for him to step up and truly take charge.
"One smooth electoral transition and one round of change at the top of the military hierarchy cannot erase decades of civilian subjugation to military diktat, but the historic changeovers of 2013 can certainly be a springboard to greater civilian confidence."
"There are at least four areas in which Mr Sharif needs to examine and reset the state`s policies: the domestic militant threat; Balochistan; Afghanistan; and India.
"Each of those issues is enormously complicated in its own right, before the civil-military angle is even factored in," it said.