Terming the Pakistan government's over reliance on China as "important but short-sighted", Pakistan political economist S Akbar Zaidi on 10 June claimed that his country's relations with India has a better chance to prosper if worked upon properly.
"Pakistan thinks that China is their best friend and they are trying to put all their fruits in one basket and give it to the Chinese. I think this is unfortunate as Pakistan has more common factors with India than China," he said in a talk on "Trade and economic possibilities and constraints between India and Pakistan" here.
"The focus of the Pakistan government to look solely at China is perhaps important but short-sighted. I hope India starts looking West and Pakistan starts looking East to improve the relationship from the way it has been for the last nine to 10 years," he said.
Referring to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that would connect Kashgar in China's Xinjiang province to the Gwadar Port of Pakistan, Zaidi said China has become the most prominent investor in Pakistan since the last two years, eventually pushing India and all the other countries to the backseat.
"China has been dominating the economic scene in Pakistan for the last two years. The major share of $46 billion worth CPEC will be spent by China.
"As a result the economic exchanges with India or for that matter any other countries including the US has taken a back seat," said Zaidi, a visiting professor at the Columbia University, New York, since 2010.
While accepting that India and Pakistan have a lot of issues between them that needs to be addressed, he claimed that the relationship between the two countries can be more permanent than the Sino-Pakistan relation due to the cultural and geographical closeness.
"I do not see the China-Pakistan relationship being either natural or permanent. I would rather say the India-Pakistani relation would be more permanent given the similar cultural roots and the geographical connectivity the two nations enjoy," he claimed.
Zaidi said apart from improving trade and strategic relationship, people to people contact can play a key role in improving the bilateral relationship.
"Whenever, someone from India comes to Pakistan or the Pakistani students come to India they come back with a very different perception than what we come to know about each other from the media," he added at the programme organised by the Bengal Chamber and the Indian Institute of Management (Calcutta Alumni Association).