Washington: With its economy battered by
the devastating floods, Pakistan must make peace with India
and normalise its economic ties if it wants to overcome the
crisis, a noted American scholar has said.
"Pakistan`s economic expansion has come, in part, by
selling and smuggling consumer goods to India`s growing middle
classes," Steve Coll, president of the Washington-based
think-tank New America Foundation, wrote in the latest issue
of the New Yorker.
"For Pakistan to overcome its many burdens, it must
make peace or at least normalise economic ties with India,
which would include resolving the Kashmir issue," he said,
adding that on this subject, the US could benefit from a sense
of urgency comparable to its focus on Pakistani terrorism.
"In 2007, the governments of India and Pakistan
negotiated the outline of an agreement that would have further
opened their border to trade. A final deal has proved elusive,
in part because of evidence that Pakistan`s Army continues to
support anti-Indian terrorist groups; the Obama Administration
has the leverage in Pakistan to hold the Army accountable," he argued.
Noting that the country`s economy was on the right
track in the last one decade, Coll said the number of
Pakistanis living in poverty fell by almost half between 1999
and 2008, from thirty per cent of the population to about 17
"This extraordinary change, a result of rapid economic
growth and remittances from Pakistanis working abroad, is not
often discussed on American cable-news outlets," he said.
"Five years ago, Pakistan`s economic growth rate
reached eight per cent annually, and the economy has continued
to expand, if more slowly, even since 2008, when the global
financial crisis and the domestic Taliban insurgency took hold
simultaneously," he wrote.