Why India-Pak peace can’t happen on lines of Korean Summit or Trump-Kim talks

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    Pakistan is at it again. Hours after US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met over a historic summit in Singapore, former chief minister of Pakistan's Punjab province and brother of the country's ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, said the event in Singapore could be a precedent for India and Pakistan to iron out their differences and progress on a path of lasting regional peace.

    Why India-Pak peace can’t happen on lines of Korean Summit or Trump-Kim talks

    The PML-N leader posted a series of tweets on Tuesday stressing on the subject and suggested New Delhi and Islamabad should resume their dialogue on Kashmir to settle the age-old dispute.

    "Singapore Summit between the US and North Korea should set a good precedent for Pakistan and India to follow," Sharif wrote.

    He wrote that the two Cold War foes, US and North Korea had been threatening to use nuclear power against each other, and if they could "return from the brink of a nuclear flashpoint", so could India and Pakistan.

    Similar sentiments were felt in Pakistan in the wake of the historic inter-Korean summit that took place between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27. Days after the summit, calls were heard in the country's media urging the two South Asian neighbours to normalise their ties just as the two estranged Koreas, partitioned in the mid-1940s, did.

    The pro-peace sentiments aired in Pakistan's media and by a civilian leader whose party is struggling ahead of the general elections next month are understandable for these produce positive vibes in a society which is otherwise burdened by the weight of too-hard politics. But as far as the reality in South Asia is concerned, nothing sort of a Korean summit or a Trump-Kim summit looks feasible here and there are several reasons to explain that.

    India-Pak peace initiative can't succeed like a Korean summit

    An inter-Korean summit like event is unlikely in India even though the cases look apparently similar for North and South Koreas and India and Pakistan. Though both were partitioned around the same time, the dispute that India and Pakistan have with each other is much more complex and layered and not just caused by an ideological rift as is the case in the Korean Peninsula.

    The two Koreas are culturally not distinct and neither do they have any religious angle to their confrontation or practice of cross-border terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy - as is the case between the two nuclear-powered neighbours in South Asia.

    Moreover, the China factor makes it worse between India and Pakistan. Unlike in the Korean Peninsula where China has discouraged its ally North Korea from becoming a nuclear power fearing a self-defeating backlash from the US and its regional allies like South Korea and Japan, it has not done the same with Pakistan - its close ally in South Asia.

    Moreover, Pakistan has neither a strong parliamentary democracy nor any one-man rule and there are several power centres in that country to engage with. This makes it extremely tough for anybody to call a peace initiative with Islamabad and India experienced the outcome in 1999.

    The Kashmir issue between the two sides is far too sensitive and complex for any quick solution and unlike in the Korean Peninsula where a number of countries' involvement made the peace initiative look easier, India will strictly adhere to its stand of not allowing any third party's involvement in the problem. Shehbaz Sharif's suggestion for a dialogue over Kashmir "whose heroic people have resisted and rejected Indian occupation" makes it a weak case for peace to make progress between the two neighbours.

    India-Pak equation can't be equated with US-N Korea either

    The task of drawing a parallel between the US-North Korea summit with a possible India-Pakistan peace initiative also amounts to a futile exercise for many reasons.

    The Trump-Kim summit, despite its optical attractions, has not produced anything substantial yet and hence it's too early to make it a model for India-Pakistan peace. And even if it does achieve some success on the ground, there are reasons to believe that it can't really be compared to a possible India-Pak peace.

    First, the US is not an immediate neighbour of North Korea and gets little affected by its excesses. The only way the US gets affected by the Korean problem is by maintaining a military contingent in the South as a Cold War legacy and President Trump is in favour of disbanding it for financial profits.

    Trump also is not in favour of the US paying for its war costs if there is a military confrontation with the North but relies on its allies Japan and South Korea for the same.

    On the question of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula too, the US has little to do on the ground for it is North Korea who has the onus on its shoulders. In case it doesn't fulfil the promises, Trump will only make sanctions stronger, escalate his rhetoric and go back to his people to show the 'betrayal' of the "rocket man". In case of India and Pakistan, nothing of that sort is possible for New Delhi can't unilaterally corner Pakistan.

    The relation between India and Pakistan cannot be summarised so easily. India have suffered because of Pak-sponsored terrorism while Pakistan, too, has faced the ire of its home-grown terrorism but given the evil designs of the Pakistan's 'invisible' power centres, the two countries never find them on the same page as the victims of terrorism and put up a united quest for peace.

    Economically, the gap between the US and North Korea is so wide that the latter has a compulsion of sort to abide by its pledge to denuclearise or else, more sanctions will cripple it to a point of explosion.

    No matter how much Kim Jong-un tries to show that he is talking to Trump from a position of strength, the reality says something else. The US has little to lose in this engagement but North Korea has a lot to win. In case of India and Pakistan, the situation is not so lop-sided.

    Pakistan although is economically poorer than India, it still is a developing country and has China's open backing; has a substantial population and a nuclear arsenal and also a strategic significance for big powers like China and the US. Both New Delhi and Islamabad have a lot to lose in their bilateral tussles and hence they pick their road with utmost care, sometimes even by sacrificing progress in their mutual relations.

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