Pakistan's economy is in an acute state now that the US military has decided to cancel $300 million in aid. Such is the dire situation that the country urgently needs $12 billion in a month's time to avoid a major financial disaster.

According to latest figures, Pakistan's current account deficit stands at $18 billion, while its foreign currency reserves are just over $10 billion. The country had to borrow $439.17 million in the first month of the current fiscal year to keep its foreign reserves above the two months import bill.

According to some experts, much of this debt crisis is the result of reckless Chinese lending under the Belt and Road Initiative, which has added to the weight of the long-standing problems. For India, a financial crisis in the neighbourhood, that too in a country with whom it shares a fragile relationship, is a matter of grave importance.

A destabilised Pakistan will be a bigger threat to New Delhi. The Indian government should lend a helping hand to its neighbour in these difficult times. PM Imran Khan had already expressed a strong desire to mend fences with India and boost bilateral trade, which had suffered because of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.

Even then in the last financial year, bilateral trade worth more than $2.4 billion was carried out between the countries in select sectors. However, this figure hardly does justice to the enormous trade potential. According to the Indian Council of Research on International Economic Relations (Icrier), bilateral trade can be jacked up to $11.7 billion (Rs 46,098 crore).

In sectors like textile and clothing, sports goods and surgical equipment, there are tremendous trade opportunities that benefit both countries. Despite continuous needling from terrorists and shelling along the LoC, India continues to give Pakistan the Most Favoured Nation status.

However, despite attempts by civilian governments to bury the hatchet, the deep state in Pakistan and the hawks in India's foreign policy establishment do not want peace to prevail. Imagine the disappointment in India when the euphoria over the Lahore bus ride was replaced with the Kargil war.

The primarily problem with Pakistan is the overarching influence of the military-terror nexus over social, economic and political institutions. It has virtually made a mockery of the country's democratic processes. India's surgical strikes underscored how, despite, international censure, Pakistan continues with terror peddling.

A belligerent stand with Pakistan has not worked before. And, the road ahead for the two countries cannot be laid on the premise of bloody confrontations. Its worth recalling AB Vajpayee's peace efforts with Pakistani general-turned President Pervez Musharraf. Vajpayee had famously said in Kashmir that "guns cannot solve any problem, but brotherhood can". Indeed, His three-point formula for resolving the Kashmir problem — 'Insaniyat (Humanism) Jamhooriat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat — can be applied in ironing out the core differences with Pakistan.

This is a good time to make a fresh start. PM Khan must know that terror and friendship cannot go hand in hand. New Delhi is willing to help, but the ISI and the military must step back.