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India and Pakistan’s Regional Instability

negative impact of regional instability
India and Pakistan have had a long and tumultuous history that the global community is witnessing play out on the world stage to this day. This history is an example of the negative impact of India and Pakistan’s regional instability. While a fortified wall separates these two countries now, they and their majority Muslim and Hindu populations were living harmoniously at one time, although it was also oppressively under British colonial rule.

History Between India and Pakistan

The partition between India and Pakistan involved the forced migration as a result of the British empire’s reckless geopolitical mismanagement. People began to realize that colonialism was soon losing ground following the catastrophe that befell Great Britain during the Second World War–and the British colony of India would soon become successful acquisitions of sovereignty and independence. Tasked with creating the new geographic lines that would separate the Hindu and Muslim populations, British lawyer Sir Cyril Radcliffe would inadvertently cause one of the worst forced migration crises in human history, including the deaths of more than 1 million people and the displacement of another 14 million.

When it became clear that the new state of India would form with a majority Hindu population and leadership, millions of Muslim refugees fled the now free country of India to Pakistan seeking peace and were hoping to quell their fears of political and economic repression. Many of the Hindu population living in Pakistani territory would soon follow suit and migrate to India for the same reasons.

India and Pakistan’s regional instability is negative and the chaos that ensues when millions must become refugees and migrate out of their homes and communities and away from their family, friends and the only lives they have ever known. Partition would create a humanitarian crisis of food shortages, economic instability and violence during its 1947 unraveling.

Not only have the geographical lines been under scrutiny since their drawings, for their awkward placements and razor-like cuts through established communities, it also gave birth to a heavily fortified border wall. Each evening at the now-famous border checkpoint, inhabitants from both Pakistan and India are welcome to witness a surreal performance showcasing each nation’s military strength – there is a crescendo when the border gate is open, briefly and military members from each nation perform a rehearsed dance with one another to the pleasure of the audience.

Trade Between India and Pakistan

The Economist once described India and Pakistan as “natural trading partners.” However, due to political and social tensions between the two countries, due mostly to perceptions of political and security hostilities, with both nations deeming attacks of terrorism to have state sponsorship and encouragement, these regional partners have been unable to grasp and cultivate mutual economic benefits.

While trade does exist between the two countries, it is only $2.4 billion compared to the potential $37 billion that the countries could make if there were no tariff barriers, according to the World Bank.

And while India is a vast country in both population and resources, which have played to its economic strengths, Pakistan has been less than fortunate, plagued by high inflation and domestic debt. Therefore, from the point of view of Pakistan, the political and security volatility puts a tremendous strain on what and who is there. Also, it has become more likely that the working-class of Pakistan would garner most of the economic hurt as a direct result of steep custom responsibilities that India imposed.

Pakistan is not able to suffer the repeated economic blows that will come from prolonged conflicts with India. As of this writing, Pakistan’s economy is shambolic and not prone to swift economic recovery. This is having far-reaching negative impacts, not only on the economy but on economic development as well. Pakistan is unable to make long-game, much-needed investments in its country and must rely heavily on foreign aid.

As two developing countries with a combined 2 million people living in abject poverty, it would be beneficial to both nations to commit to an era of de-escalation. In addition to this, both countries are struggling with high numbers of unemployment and necessary funds that could come from easing economic and political tensions to go towards projects and divisions for development, such as health and education.

While India and Pakistan’s regional instability is currently palpable on this Indian subcontinent, the tensions that have experienced countless rises and freefalls for over 70 years, have the potential to stabilize for good. An eye to mutual understanding and cooperation will help ensure that there are lasting and vast positive economic, social and political effects.

Connor Dobson
Photo: Flickr