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A central factor in the lack of South Asian regional cooperation is the visceral animosity between India and Pakistan. The India-Pakistan security dilemma has prevented the region from exploiting a number of opportunities that regional cooperation could offer, including the benefits of economic growth, water/energy security and the social construction of intraregional goodwill through cultural interaction. These benefits could be employed by national governments to pursue development goals. It is incumbent upon India and Pakistan to pave the way for substantive regional cooperation by taking measures to encourage cross-border economic and social activities. There are a number of challenges in the India-Pakistan relationship that hinder regional cooperation. However economic integration, if decoupled from political disputes, provides a model through which the two states can develop mutually beneficial relations. In particular, three specific areas of cooperation between Pakistan and India should be pursued: increased levels of trade and the introduction of reforms that facilitate bilateral foreign direct investment; cooperation vis-à-vis water and energy resources; and the reduction of travel restrictions. These processes would constitute the first steps towards wider regional cooperation.
This document has been peer reviewed.