United States of South Asia?

Recently Prime Minster Mr. Narendra Modi said: “The country which forgets its history also loses its ability to create history.” One hopes Mr. Modi has a fair idea about how an avoidable Partition of the subcontinent has profoundly and adversely affected the politics of this region. The hope that he has is strengthened by his inviting all members of SAARC nations to his swearing in ceremony. That gesture provided clear indication that consolidating the subcontinent is high on his foreign policy agenda. Well, fresh circumstances provide Mr. Modi a chance to create history and earn on it his place as an icon of change.

This writer has taxed the patience of readers with his repeated advocacy of a South Asian Union as the best means of promoting peace and progress in this region. Mr. Modi’s SAARC gesture provided hope of movement in that direction. But it takes two hands to clap. No leader in Pakistan except the late Benazir Bhutto indirectly supported the idea. Benazir spoke in general terms of South Asian nations cooperating more closely. A little after she said this she was assassinated. Now at last someone in Pakistan has explicitly supported the idea of creating a South Asian Union as the best means of promoting regional peace.

The distinguished Pakistani columnist Mr. Khaled Ahmed has quoted in an article the views of Mr. Ishrat Husain, a former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan and a World Bank executive. Supporting a South Asian Union on the lines of the European Union (EU) Mr. Husain said: “India and Pakistan have to take the lead here for the benefit of their own people, the region and indeed the whole world.”

According to this writer there is a flaw in Mr. Husain’s assessment. As most economists he overemphasizes the impact of trade and underestimates the political identities of societies in bringing about change. The EU is floundering precisely because big business interests fell into this trap and thoughtlessly expanded the market ignoring political and cultural identities. Mr. Husain believes that a South Asian Union must take a long time to fructify after gradual expansion of Indo-Pakistan trade tries.

This writer believes that regional consolidation through resolving political disputes between India and Pakistan preceding trade ties would greatly expedite the creation of a South Asian Union. Once Islamabad bites the bullet, Dacca will inevitably follow. Eventually, genuine federal autonomy for provinces within nations and a confederation among countries within the region is what would create a United States of South Asia. If this were done separatist movements in the Kashmir Valley of India and Baluchistan province in Pakistan would be addressed effectively. But to accomplish this, bold and courageous political initiative is required. Can Mr. Modi create a South Asian Union? If he succeeds this single achievement will offset all other lapses. He will earn a permanent place in history.


More by :  Dr. Rajinder Puri

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Views: 3346      Comments: 2

Comment A tall call, Rajinder Puriji. First all the SAARC countries have to decide to make their countries secular, enshrine them in their respective constitutions bring about a change of heart in their words and deeds. Then only the pipe dream can see a ray of light. Narendra Modi is taking right steps, though. But can an essentially arabic religion which is rather aggresive in its manifestation and which has spread tentacles in South and South East Asia in more than one millenia, allow that? They have not been able to do that in more than a millennia in much more proximus regions like Iran, Iraq, Israel. Until Islamists shed shed their aggression, there is no chance of a Brihat Bhaarat, sorry, United States of South Asia.
14-Aug-2014 02:07 AM

Comment Well, Mr. Puri, earning permanent place is not my concern nor of Narendra
Modi. In meeting of 5 nations in Brazil, India became the first president of BRICKS nations when NARENDRA MODI represented India. This gave India/Narendra Modi a permanent place in history icons(India)

Trade ties have always been made ahead of every imperialistic nation. example:
India and England. BUT if trade ties are made with equal take and give, with no
strings attached, they will work out. Narendra Modi can make such trade ties with Pakistan and every other nation..Narendra Modi will then win the race for

pranlal sheth
12-Aug-2014 22:41 PM

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