By Andrea Lynn The economic prospects for South Asia are much better than most people have thought, says an expert on South Asia who recently took part in a major study of the region. And, with improved economic prospects, "a new U.S.-India relationship - and to some degree a new U.S.-Pakistan relationship - are going to emerge, which will have strategic, as well as cultural and social, implications," says Stephen Cohen, a UI professor of political science and of history. Cohen explained that until now, India and Pakistan have been dependent on foreign aid, but thanks to India's liberalization policies, India now exports some $200 million worth of computer software to the United States each year, and that sum "can increase by tenfold." Pakistan also has become a major exporter of software, Cohen noted. The new director of the university's Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security, Cohen was the only academic South Asian specialist participating in the study sponsored by The Asia Society. The study was the first comprehensive investigation of South Asia-U.S. relations. The study mission recently released its report, "South Asia and the United States After the Cold War," and briefed community leaders around the United States. Cohen, the author of eight books on South Asia, including "The Pakistan Army" and "The Indian Army," also is co-director of a current project involving South Asia's recent military crises. The project, "Beyond Brasstacks," is the first retrospective study of crises in South Asia in 1987 and 1990; it was modeled after several retrospective studies of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. According to Cohen, the results of the South Asia crises study are "very disturbing." "The evidence so far indicates that the 1987 crisis was far more serious than the U.S. government thought - and I was in the U.S. State Department at the time and helped manage the crisis from the American side. But, I've learned things about it as a result of this study that are very surprising - for example, communications between India and Pakistan had completely broken down." Ironically, the 1990 crisis, which did alarm the U.S. government, seems to have been a lesser threat to regional security. "India and Pakistan didn't think there was going to be a war, and they were more cautious than we thought they were," Cohen said. "So, these are really case studies in miscalculation as well as misperception." As in the Cuban crisis, key participants were brought together to discuss and critique the project findings. These will be presented at a news briefing in January in Washington, D.C. Cohen said he hopes that "the lessons learned will be studied by officials in the U.S., Pakistan and India. With the region on the edge of nuclear weapons capabilities, we want to avoid a second set of crises in South Asia."