April 22, 2021
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Connecting hope
Trilateral trade between Afghanistan- Pakistan-India Manmohan Singh’s wish, to be able to have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and dinner in Kabul, may finally see the light of day now that Nawaz Sharif is re-elected as Pakistan’s leader. Back in 1999, as Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif initiated an ambitious process of planning a super-express highway that would connect Afghanistan and India through Pakistan. Although this plan made a rough progress during Musharraf’s and Zardari’s time in office, there is considerable hope for its revival now that Nawaz Sharif is making overtures toward India. Integrating Afghanistan, India and Pakistan through infrastructure and trade will boost the region’s economy, but the process is and possibly will be clouded by a gamut of issues. Nawaz Sharif looks optimistic and willing to boost ties with India, but Pakistan’s words and actions have not always matched in the past, especially during Sharif’s rule. Pakistan’s Army has always had a different agenda from its government when it comes to Afghanistan and India, and following the US withdrawal of troops next year, there is a possibility that Afghanistan may turn into India and Pakistan’s battleground, since both eye the strategic edge that Afghanistan offers. Boosting trade Therefore, in light of such sensitive issues, even though boosting trade ties would be the economic and political need of the hour,
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