India-Pakistan rapprochement? Terrorists, beware.
The leaders of both countries agreed this week that terrorism is each nation's main threat. That's an encouraging sign.
This week's sit-down between the prime ministers of Pakistan and India may not have removed mountains of suspicion and hostility between these two rivals, but their meeting may have leveled a few foothills.Skip to next paragraph
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That's because the Pakistan-India rivalry is central to removing the threat of Islamist terrorism from this region, including Afghanistan.
Historic tension between Pakistan and India has distracted the Pakistan government from fully facing down Islamist extremists at home. The majority of Pakistan's troops are concentrated on its eastern border with India, rather than in the troublesome western border region with Afghanistan.
India-as-enemy also helps fuel the cause of Islamist militants in Pakistan, granting them – until recently – considerable leniency from the Pakistani government and public.
A CliffsNotes version of the region's geopolitics would boil it down to this: Remove the rivalry distraction from the government, remove a major source of fuel from Islamist extremism, and the militants lose on two important fronts.
But rapprochement between Islamabad and New Delhi is not a given. The two governments have fought three major wars since the partition of British India established their countries more than 60 years ago, and they're locked in a territorial dispute over Kashmir.
Last year, when Islamist terrorists based in Pakistan staged a spectacular attack on the Indian port city of Mumbai – killing more than 170 people, including the gunmen – India broke off dialogue with Pakistan. It insists that Pakistan bring the Mumbai perpetrators to justice.