India-Pakistan ties over the past decade have been a mixed bag. There have been significant tensions, especially in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, and the beheading of Indian soldiers across the Line of Control (LOC) in August, 2013. Amid these tensions, however, there have been noteworthy achievements in the realm of bilateral trade, where trade through the Wagah-Attari land route has gone up nearly four-fold from $664 million (2004) to approximately $2.6 billion (2012-2013) (Source: Ministry of Commerce). In addition to bilateral trade, there has been an emphasis on increasing connectivity
between border regions, especially the two Punjabs and Rajasthan-Sindh. Some of the important Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) include the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service, and the weekly Munabao-Khokhrapar train service, called the ‘Thar Express’. There has been an emphasis on making ‘borders irrelevant’ as was envisioned by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It is not just the two Punjabs and Rajasthan-Sindh that have made efforts to rekindle economic and cultural ties, there have also been interactions between businessmen from Gujarat and Karachi.
The aim of the research report “Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab: The Need for a Border States Group” by Tridivesh Singh Maini is to examine the approach of the political leadership, as well as the business community, in these three ‘border States’ towards India-Pakistan ties. It is very simplistic to link the sentiment in a State with one singular factor: economic, political or cultural. This paper has sought to look at a number of factors, which include politics, economics as well as security issues. It has also attempted to get the views of a reasonably broad spectrum of people from different ideological persuasions, including those representing the Union Government and the State governments.