February 20, 2007Foreign AffairsSecurity

Smugglers on the train

(Illegal) trading interests just took a hit.

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Maverick, who always has unusual takes on such things, reminds us that the India-Pakistan train was one link in cross-border smuggling networks. It brought Afghan narcotics into India and carried back commercial items like medicines, and drug-related intermediaries like acetic anhydride’ to Pakistan.

The poor Muslims who travel on this line are often used as couriers in this illegal trade and whoever dominates this trade effectively dominates a number of local economies in Pakistan especially in vital things like medicines. This trade plays a crucial role in stablising India Pakistan relations, and India has only closed the Samjhauta express down in periods of extremely high India-Pakistan tension. This gesture on the Indian side has almost always been accompanied by public and private threats from Indians to Pakistan to completely shut down the flow of acetic anhydride from India to Pakistan. A move that never seems to fail to rattle people inside Pakistan. Pakistani submissive gestures follow almost instantaneously and not long after this any residual rebelliousness on their side ebbs…

It is painful to see traders, even illegal ones, going from India to Pakistan, without doubt people we were supposed to protect, get hurt in this way. In that sense, though the dead are predominantly Pakistanis, this event wounds us more than it wounds the Pakistanis, after all these were Pakistanis who had a extremely vested interest in India-Pakistan peace! [Indian Maverick]Seen in this context, hurting Pakistanis who have a vested interest in peace with India is a setback for the real peace process. [See this post on what the peace process should really be about]

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