President Bush's critical visits to India and Pakistan were bound to be anything but dull, and two events have occured in the last 12 hours that signify not only the diverging brand images of both India and Pakistan, but also how many issues of global importance converge on this region.
India and the US have signed a nuclear energy agreement. This not only helps world oil prices by easing India's demand for oil, it is essentially a stamp of approval for India as a responsible, democratic chaperone of nuclear weapons.
This cartoon from Cox and Forkum says it all.
Things are not so rosy over in Pakistan. A US diplomat was killed by an Al-Qaeda suicide bomber, an attack strategically planned to complicate Bush's visit there later this week. Additionally, a major terrorist commander was captured in Bangladesh, a country that used to be part of Pakistan until 1971. The mainstream media barely mentions this.
As India's brand image evolves to one of a globally influential democracy with rapidly growing, knowledge-based industries, the brand image of Pakistan continues to degenerate into that of a state full of Al-Qaeda terrorists and those sympathetic towards them. This cannot be attributed to Islam alone, as India still has about the same aggregate number of Muslims as Pakistan, yet Indian Muslims rarely have been the cause of such suicide-bombings.
This is also apparent in this Pew survey, indicating that India has a higher opinion of the US than almost any other country, whereas Pakistan is at the other end of the scale, mostly viewing the US negatively.
We are witnessing a divergence in the fortunes of India and Pakistan (and Bangladesh), which were all one country until 1947. Can Pakistan change from a dangerous path to join Indian on a productive one? For the future of the world, it must.
India, Indo-US ties, India nuclear deal, Indian economy, India outsourcing