Pakistan premier Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday said that Pakistan was proving its desire for peace by reducing its defense budget and wants India to reciprocate. Now this comes amid reports of ISI doubling its aid to terror/militant groups operating in Jammu & Kashmir. Instances of ISI aiding the militant groups in Dhaka have been reported. In light of the above, it has to be understood whether ISI spending also comes under defense spending or is it "internal" security. The "above the board" defense budget could be a victim of inflation, fiscal deficit and cut in aid from its Western "allies".
I was very much encouraged by a Mr. Asif Ali Zardari interview to the Indian media where he sought to give new direction to the Indo-Pak bilateral relationships. He had mentioned that Pakistan can grow in the shadow of the bigger neighbor by prospering in the prosperity of India. The Indian economic boom has enough to benefit even its neighbors (including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, etc). This looked like a new beginning. However, post elections, I am yet to see any real moves to bridge the gap between the estranged countries. While this might be too early to judge, I get the feeling the US-Musharraf lobby will push the democratic setup of Pakistan into the arms of the hardline extremist groups.
I hope in the general interest of India & Pakistan and the world in general, better sense prevails.
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