Floods in Pakistan and the pulls and pressures of India-Pakistan disaster diplomacy

Source: The post is based on the article “Floods in Pakistan and pulls and pressures of India-Pakistan disaster diplomacy” published in The Indian Express on 9th September 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Indian and its neighbourhood relations.

News- The article explains the Indian-Pakistan disaster diplomacy.

Recently Pakistan has been devastated by heavy floods which led to heavy loss of life, essentials shortages. Indian Prime Minister expressed his condolences.

What are the recent developments related to India-Pakistan relations?

Modi invited Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to his swearing- in ceremony and both leaders held the promise of a new beginning in their bilateral relationship.

The sequence of events that followed like- red line on meeting between Hurriyat separatists and Pakistan diplomats; terror attack in Uri and Pathankot impacted relations negatively. India took a stand that talk and terror cannot go together.

Relations further deteriorated when India abrogated the special status of Jammu & Kashmir. It led to downsizing the officials in both High Commissions.

After Shehbaz Sharif assumed power in Pakistan, there have been some positive signals. He has urged India to resolve the Kashmir issue and focus on tackling poverty and unemployment;

India’s PM also congratulated the him on forming the government.

In a letter to Modi; Sharif said that Pakistan remains committed to “regional peace and security” and sought “peaceful and cooperative ties” with Pakistan.

What were earlier responses to the disasters by both countries?

In 2001, when an earthquake hit Bhuj, Pakistan sent tents and blankets. Vajpayee thanked the Pakistan General for the gesture.

In 2005, when an earthquake hit both countries, India sent aircraft with relief supplies and pledged $ 5 million through the UN to support Pakistan.

During 2010 super flood in Pakistan, India offered $ 5 million in help, however, the offer was declined.

What is Case for help?

PM Modi’s outreach by way of the message created a potential opening for “disaster diplomacy”.

The Pakistan ruling class is well disposed to humanitarian gestures from India.

State of Pakistan Finance Minister said that the government can consider importing vegetables and edible oils from India.

General Bajwa spoke in favour of improving ties.

India has a desire to be “first responder” in times of disaster and crisis in neighbouring countries.

Vaccine diplomacy has already been billed as a major achievement for India.

What are possible options for India?

The help can be at micro level by sending emergency essential supplies.

At macro and medium-to-long-term, it could help in construction of damaged properties and cultural heritage.

However, the current regime’s policy of zero tolerance for terrorism and extending help, to tackle disaster, are at conflict with each other.

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