Shahbaz Sharif’s visit to India culminated with a reiteration of the governing party’s commitment to improve ties with India. The Sharif brothers’ infatuation with the neighbour is no secret, however they have neglected to mention just what is it about India that appeals them so much. Words of ‘cooperation’ and ‘progress’ have been bandied about with ceaseless repetition, but PML-N has still not elaborated on why they feel that our Eastern border holds the answer to all of the problems this country is riddled with. Make no mistake; having positive relations with India should stay a priority and does not need reasons beyond the historical and cultural ties that both countries mutually share, however, why is it that the Sharif economic policy is centered around improving trade with India?

The desperation for this new friendship rests on being able to tap into the gigantic market of India for potential exports. The Prime Minister knows that gifting laptops and granting loans through the new business schemes are only eyewash, and will have no tangible benefit on the economy of the country. The purpose of these schemes is solely to pander to the public and make them believe that something ‘real’ is happening. However, given India’s lack of enthusiasm one must wonder if the government has any contingency plans. Shahbaz Sharif’s stay in India was spent constantly reminding the Indians that this government will relentlessly pursue the idea of friendship and also had the now oft-repeated invitation to PM Singh at hand when talking to him. But so far, Manmohan Singh has not chosen to accept or reject the offer. This quest is not political suicide like some are calling it, but the only option PML-N feels Pakistan has at the moment.

Even if ties with India improve enough to enable a flow of trade between the two countries, there is no guarantee that Pakistan will be able to overcome its numerous issues. The fact remains that India along with its massive consumer base, also has greater production capabilities than Pakistan. So how does Nawaz plan on stemming the flood of Indian products that is bound to take place if the avenues of trade are opened? And just what exactly is the government going to do when the production of commodities in this country is crippled by terrorism and the energy shortage as it has been for so long? Maybe our Prime Minister has chosen to not think so far ahead, but he must do so if he wants the progress he claims is this country’s salvation.