India and Pakistan need to avoid engaging in a trade war that will deal a blow to their own economies as well as that of China.
Tensions between India and Pakistan skyrocketed after Pakistan was reported to be considering a ban on the imports of some Indian products, as a protest against India’s earlier move to withdraw most favored nation status given to Pakistan.
Last week, a suicide attack claimed by the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary troopers in the Pulwama district, resulting in India’s economic attacks and Pakistan’s reported tit-for-tat moves.
The suicide attack by a Pakistan-based terrorist outfit cannot be a reason for New Delhi to punish ordinary Pakistani people with economic measures. A possible decision to escalate tensions by carrying out countermeasures against India is also inadvisable.
What can comfort the dead is cross-border cooperation in countering terrorism. A trade war can do nothing but complicate the situation.
The Indian and Pakistan economies will soon feel the pain of a trade war if the two countries further escalate economic tensions. Pakistan mainly imports cotton, chemicals and iron from India – materials that are vital for industry – while India imports fruit, cement and leather from Pakistan. Although their total trade is small, bilateral economic ties are more significant than some people realize.
With a strategic location along a key international trade route, India and Pakistan have some inherent advantages to make themselves a regional logistics hub. But if the two countries isolated themselves from one another, their strategic significance to economies in the region, China included, will be reduced.
Current economic interaction between India and Pakistan is a hard-own achievement that should not be interrupted by a terror strike. Terrorists would be pleased to see that a trade war adds to the instability factors affecting South Asia. Should New Delhi and Islamabad fall into the trap of terrorists? The answer is no.
China is an onlooker of the ongoing India-Pakistan conflict, and it regrets the two countries’ economic losses, which could have been avoided. However, China is not just an onlooker but a participant in the South Asian economy. As an important economic partner of both India and Pakistan, China is willing to make efforts to promote India-Pakistan economic cooperation.
Like China, the primary strategy of both India and Pakistan is to promote economic and social development. Economic cooperation among the three countries still has great potential to generate growth, which will eventually help crack down on terrorism.