(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Thomson Reuters)
It is eerily quiet on the fenced border between India and Pakistan in the southern plains of Jammu and Kashmir. Farmers are planting paddy, you can hear the sound of traffic in the distance from both sides of the border, and sometimes the squeals of children. Overhead in high watchtowers that can be seen from a mile, soldiers peer through binoculars at the enemy across while in the rear just behind the electrified fence with its array of Israeli-supplied sensors, soldiers are strung out in a line of bunkers. It’s a cold peace on one of the world’s most militarised frontiers.
Now the young chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, wants to change that, by cracking open the border and allowing the movement of people and trade through a road and rail route that have been shut since Partition in 1947.
It can be transformative and he is not alone in trying to bring about such a change. Further down the border, the governments of the two Punjabs on either side of the border are moving even faster, building up infrastructure to handle greater trade through the Wagah checkpoint that has begun to flow since the two countries agreed to promote trade while trying to tackle long-running political disputes.
Even further away, far to the east the chief minister of Bihar state, Nitish Kumar travelled to Pakistan this month to build ties and was given by all accounts a warm welcome with his Pakistani hosts pulling out all the stops.