The recent agreement by India and Pakistan to move toward normalization of trade ties and liberalize visa restrictions on business travellers represented the first time in more than a decade that talks between the two countries have resulted in a concrete positive outcome.
A new era of bilateral trade could well be afoot. But the development is best framed as “a logical consequence to a gradual rapprochement that has been occurring between India and Pakistan,” says Arif Rafiq, the editor of Pakistan Policy Blog and president of Vizier Consulting, a Middle East and South Asia strategy company.
Rafiq, also a World Politics Review contributor, told Trend Lines that current trade between the two neighbors “is far below its potential level," and both sides may have legitimate economic needs in mind. But, he added, the rapprochement has been driven in large part by U.S. pressure on both countries to improve relations ahead of America’s anticipated withdrawal from Afghanistan.