The Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS), Islamabad in collaboration with the Atlantic Council, South Asia Center, Washington D.C. organized a video-conference to launch Council’s report entitled, ‘India and Pakistan: The Opportunity Cost of Conflict’. The launch was made by Mr. Shuja Nawaz and the Atlantic Council’s resident fellow Mr. Mohan Guruswamy from New Delhi Authors of the report, Shuja Nawaz and Mohan Guruswamy, discussed rationale and findings of the report via video-link from Washington and New Delhi.
The report suggests that the burgeoning defense spending in both India and Pakistan is detrimental to the economic and social development in both countries. The defense expenditure in both countries is at the expense of their large population living below poverty level at $1.25 per day. The report concludes that both countries would benefit if they increase flow of their trade and reduce military spending.
Mohan Guruswamy, highlighted that the largest trading partner of US is China, and Germany’s is France, however, India and Pakistan, have unique relations in not having economic cooperation despite being neighbors. He emphasized the fact that Indian and Pakistani economies can complement each other. India can buy cotton cloth from Pakistan and Pakistani leather goods can be exported to Indian market as well. He opined that both countries should promote solution oriented dialogue engaging the stakeholders on both sides.
Shuja Nawaz, pinpointed the substantial losses suffered by India and Pakistan due to their rivalries. He said, that the region would have been a 50 percent increase in GDP over fifty years if the two states had succeeded on curtailing the expenditure on defense.
Both authors highlighted the need for increased people to people contact, and direct communication between militaries to promote confidence building measures. For example, Shuja suggested that both countries should scale down their troops stationed near the border. The authors also proposed the opening of border for trade and tourism, and change in the visa regime. An important point raised by the authors was that joint investment in energy, water and export-oriented industries will go a long way in improving relations between the two countries.
Executive Director CISS, Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi in his welcome remarks thanked Atlantic Center for launching a timely report and called on the authors to broaden their horizons and take into account the regional strategic landscape.
An interactive and stimulating question and answer session followed the opening remarks made by the authors.
Prominent policy-makers, defence analysts, academicians, journalists and members of think-tank community in Islamabad attended the report launch.