Cautious optimism in India over Sharif′s victory | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 13.05.2013
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Asia

Cautious optimism in India over Sharif's victory

The Indian political establishment has responded to the victory of former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif in May 11 elections with cautious optimism. Analysts hope that Sharif will be able to revive the Indo-Pakistani ties.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his historic victory in the parliamentary elections. Sharif, who was twice prime minister of Pakistan in the 1990s, is poised to begin a new term soon.

Singh also invited Sharif to visit India. “I am writing to extend to you my heartiest congratulations on your emphatic victory in the general elections in Pakistan. You have received a strong mandate to lead Pakistan towards a stable, peaceful and prosperous future,” Singh said in his letter to Sharif.

Sharif was quick to respond and invited Singh to participate in his oath-taking ceremony in Islamabad.

Pakistani porters carry trade commodities for India at Wagah, the joint border check post near Lahore, Pakistan on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2006 (Photo: AP Photo/K M Chaudhry)

Pakistan's trade ties with India are gradually improving

Terrorism

Many in India feel that the victory of Sharif's Muslim League party in one of Pakistan's most crucial elections bodes well for the future of Indo-Pakistani relations as well as for the whole of South Asia. Their optimism is based on Sharif's previous efforts to improve ties between the two nuclear powers.

However, experts say that Islamabad's relations with New Delhi will largely depend on how Sharif deals with the Pakistani military and the Taliban.

Strategic analyst Uday Bhaskar told DW most Indians welcomed Sharif's return to power. "But it will be an exaggeration to say that Sharif will be able to rein in terrorist groups which continue to pose a threat not only to Pakistan but to the entire region." Bhaskar added that Sharif won't have much say on important strategic issues like the Kashmir dispute. It is the Pakistani army generals who decide these matters, he said.

Kapil Kak, a retired Indian Air Vice Marshal, told DW that Pakistan's relations with India would be determined by how Sharif tackled the banned Islamist militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. According to Kak, both of these groups are anti-Indian and backed by the Pakistani army.

Nawaz Sharif (Photo: REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)

Sharif’s PML-N party defeated both the PPP and Imran Khan’s PTI

Regional politics

Experts say that Pakistan's future relations with India will also affect events in the region. India's former Foreign Secretary Salman Haider believes the new Pakistani government will have to play an important role in Afghanistan after NATO troops withdraw from the country in 2014.

“India has huge stakes in Afghanistan where it has invested heavily. Sharif knows how volatile Afghanistan is. We have always worked with Pakistani politicians and since he says he wants better relations with India, I hope there is peace on the Afghanistan front as well,” Haider said in an interview with DW.

Kak thinks that with Sharif as prime minister in Islamabad, bilateral trade relations between India and Pakistan will surely improve and this will also have an impact on regional politics.

"Sharif will definitely boost trade ties with India because he is a businessman himself. He will try to mobilize the Pakistani business lobby to work with its Indian counterpart," Kak hopes.

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