New Delhi: India
must work to increase bus and train services with Pakistan even if
Islamabad is hesitant, a group of scholars have said in a newly
This is one of the many measures New Delhi must embark on if it
seeks to expand all-round relations with neighbouring countries
including China, say the scholars in the book, "India's Foreign
Policy: Old Problems, New Challenges".
Published by Macmillan, the book has a collection of papers
brought out by the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies to
honour its two leading men, P.R. Chari and Maj Gen Dipankar
Banerjee. Scholars D. Suba Chandran, N. Manoharan, P.G. Rajamohan,
Vibhanshu Shekhar, Jabin T. Jacob, Raghav Sharma and Sandeep
Bhardwaj say that it's important to scale up India-Pakistan links.
"The bus and train services (with Pakistan) need to be expanded in
terms of frequency and the number of people they cater to," they
"Even if Pakistan is hesitant, India should take unilateral
measures in allowing more Pakistanis to visit New Delhi and
"An increased inflow is automatically bound to increase the demand
for more services from within Pakistan."
The writers said that the number of truck services between India
and Pakistan should also be increased, and New Delhi should not
wait for any reciprocity from Islamabad.
"Such an expansion should not be focussed only across the
well-defined India-Pakistan border but also include the LoC (Line
of Control dividing Kashmir)," they said.
"There is increasing demand to open the Jammu-Sialkot and
Kargil-Skardu roads, and also open the LoC itself for trade.
"Given the political and emotional impact that opening the LoC
will have for various sections inside Jammu and Kashmir, India
should adopt a pro-active policy in improving physical
connectivity with the other side.
"Such a process should also have the long-term objective of
reopening the Silk Route, thus connecting Jammu and Kashmir with
Tibet, Xinjiang and the rest of Central Asia."
Similarly, the scholars argue, improved road and rail links with
Bangladesh were essential for the development of India's huge
In the case of Sri Lanka, they say, the proposed land-bridge
linking Talaimannar and Dhanushkodi "would also offer tremendous
scope for industrial linkages, especially between southern India
and Sri Lanka".
The scholars have demanded a trans-border bus service to connect
Imphal in Manipur and Mandalay in Myanmar via the Moreh-Tamu
The book says that India's connectivity with its neighbouring
countries and regions has actually declined since 1947, when the
British Raj ended.
"Following the conflict of 1962, India and China have still not
managed to shed their mistrust and continue to allow little
movement of either people or goods across their borders."
The book goes on: "Hardened mindsets, especially among the
respective bureaucracies, are also in evidence with respect to
Pakistan where despite the composite dialogue, improving physical
connectivity between the two countries continues to be making slow
Lack of physical connectivity, say the scholars, has meant that
there has been little people-to-people contact in the South Asian
region and between this region and other parts of Asia.
Consequently, the countries of the region continue to have an
incomplete, often distorted, understanding of each other.