03 December, 2020

Train To/From Pakistan

If both India and Pakistan have easy travel regimes, they'll earn goodwill among ordinary citizens who may become a force for change.

Train To/From Pakistan
Illustration by Saurabh Singh When Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pervez Musharraf meet in Agra, one elemental item should be on their agenda: travel between India and Pakistan. The India-Pakistan travel regime—the rules and conventions governing how we can legally visit each other—is confounding and enervating.

Can and should anything be done about the travel nightmare? A lot can be done, but only if the Indian and Pakistani governments are convinced that something should be done. The standard operating procedure of both governments is to be unhelpful and tedious. Why so? Why is letting in ordinary Indians or Pakistanis so dangerous?

There are two basic lines of thought among government (read intelligence) officials on this. The first is that a more liberal travel regime will allow all kinds of nasty subversives from the other side to come in under the guise of the ordinary tourists. The second argument is liberal travel rewards the enemy. Why let the citizens of the other side enjoy your...


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