08 August 2011

Stability in South Asia?

Suspended because of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008, peace talks between India and Pakistan are back on. Foreign ministers of the two countries have held a formal meeting in New Delhi that brought effusive comments from both parties.

The Indian foreign minister, SM Krishna, said his country wanted to see a "a stable, smooth and prosperous Pakistan." while his counterpart, Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, said their relationship "should not be held hostage to the past," but that the two countries should move forward as "friendly neighbours, who have a stake in each other's future and who understand the responsibility that both the countries have to the region."

Both India and Pakistan are joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization this year, a mutual-security organization which currently includes China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. With the addition of India and Pakistan, it will represent over half of humanity. Membership will not only create a bond between the two nations, it will offer another forum for dialogue.

Any easing of tensions between these nuclear-armed neighbours is good news for all of us. It is, of course, particularly good news for two poor populations who see far too much of their countries' wealth consumed by their militaries.

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