’Improving ties with India would brighten future of Pak’



Washington: US should encourage newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif to improve ties with New Delhi, a noted American expert has said.

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and now a research scholar at the Brookings Institute, argued that if Sharif becomes successful in improving ties with India, this would not only result in a healthy civil-military relationship, but would also help in defeating terrorists in this country.

"A detente between India and Pakistan holds the key to helping make Pakistan a more normal country with a healthy civil-military balance, and would help with putting the terrorist Frankenstein back in the bottle. It won't be easy to do, but Sharif deserves credit for saying he intends to do this, and we should find ways to try and help him," said Riedel said in an interview.

"And one of the reasons Sharif is doing this is because the economy he inherits in Pakistan is in shambles. There is very weak growth, a huge energy problem, a crumbling infrastructure. Sharif, who is at root an industrialist and a businessman, understands that the only real way Pakistan can hope to improve its economy is by linking its economic future to the fastest-growing economy in South Asia and one of the fastest-growing economies in the world--and that's India," Riedel said.

Riedel said that the Secretary of State John Kerry needs to make a trip to Pakistan as soon as possible. "It would be wise to invite the prime minister to Washington early to try to see if the duo can find common ground on some of these important issues. At a minimum, we want to encourage Sharif's opening to India," he said.

"We also want Pakistan's cooperation as we transition our forces out of Afghanistan. Even as we recognize that they may be playing a double game there, it's still in our interest to have a high-level dialogue with the new prime minister," he said.

Asserting that Pakistan is too important to give up on, Riedel said that he is hopeful that the inauguration of the new government will give Obama's recent counter-terrorism speech offer a chance.

PTI