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Trying to Get India and Pakistan Together is Easier Said Than Done

The current administration, for all of the strange things it is doing these days, is right to at least try to facilitate this:

The foreign ministers of Pakistan and India, meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York at the weekend, did not agree on the resumption of formal talks between the countries.

However, their meeting – the first high-level contact between the countries since July – sets the stage for Washington-mediated backchannel talks for which Pakistan has already appointed a senior envoy, Riaz Mohammad Khan.

The central issues in this dialogue will be the regional “war on terror” and the establishment of a “fair bargain” between India and Pakistan over their respective interests in Afghanistan.

Although most people (especially Christians) are focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict, in many ways the running clash between India and Pakistan is the most significant point of conflict between the Muslim world and a neighbour.  It’s certainly one of the deadliest, and has been since the two states were separated at independence sixty years ago.  And don’t forget that both India and Pakistan are both nuclear powers.

And that brings us to Afghanistan.  More than being just a place where terrorists train, Afghanistan is in effect the geographical centre of the “Old World,” and as such the locus for just about every geopolitical conflict in the world and involves all of the major powers, including Russia, China and Iran.  The India-Pakistan contest has always complicated the situation in Afghanistan, and the current administration hopes to simplify that.

It won’t be easy.  But for those of us who must content ourselves with watching, it’s something else for the prayer list.


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