The talks between India and Pakistan were carefully proclaimed well in advance not to yield much result, with the virtually inevitable result that they were not proclaimed to contain a breakthrough, but their being held at all was a success in itself. However, the failure to have any dialogue on Kashmir, the overarching dispute that is the bedrock of not just bilateral relations but of all foreign policy on both sides, or on water, which is ancillary to the main dispute, was virtually a guarantee of failure, at least in the sense of results on the ground. One problem with the talks was that they were not really bilateral. India in particular held them because of US pressure. Pakistan had long wanted the talks, but mainly to please the USA, not because they served any Pakistani purpose. The USA wanted the talks, even if there was no settlement, or even movement towards one, because it was backing India in the region to balance China, while wanting to keep Pakistan on its side in the war on terror. The USA believes in the process of dialogue, as well as results, especially when it comes to keeping the peace. The USA wants the peace kept between the two South Asian neighbours, especially now that they are openly nuclear-armed. It is not a coincidence that the USA is planning a nuclear sum-mit which will be attended by both India and Pakistan. However, the USA is even less interested than in either the Middle East or the former Yugoslavia in a solution. In those two cases. The USAs solutions have been neither practical nor lasting. In the Mi-ddle East, the proposed solution has not even been fully implemented, having come to grief on Israeli intransigence. Similarly, the USA is not interested in a just solution to the Kashmir issue, or any other Pak-India problem, just one which will prevent the two from going to war. Another USA interest is that it favours India, which might think of itself as the 'new Israel, even though it is not. However, it still is highly influential in the USA, where the Indian diasporas presence has meant that the official Indian view is given due importance in Washington, in both branches of government which depend directly on votes, the executive and the legislative. The USA has long courted India, which always bent towards the USSR, both because of a certain ideological affinity and because of its view of South Asia. India has turned slowly but increasingly towards the USA following the collapse of the USSR, and India has been viewed as the coming counterweight, in the region, to China. Because of Kashmir, Pakistan has allowed its entire foreign policy to be shaped. And because Indias foreign policy has been shaped by Pakistans, it too has left its foreign policy to be determined by Kashmir. However, the water issue has arisen, giving rise to the Indian claims that Pakistan is raising the Kashmir issue because of the waters, and the demand within India that it should abrogate the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). As for the first claim, it is only true to the extent that the waters used by both countries rise from Kashmir, and a solution of the Kashmir issue means a solution of the water issue. The desire to abrogate the IWT indicates the correctness of the Pakistani position under it. That the Indian farmer does not want any water given is neither here nor there, because farmers on both sides do not care so much about the legalities as about getting as much water as possible, even if it is harmful for the land. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that the talks were the first between the two countries since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks led India to accuse Pakistan of them and use them as an excuse to break off the Composite Dialogue that had up to that point led to the increase of people-to-people contacts, a key Indian demand. While this might be an indication that India now realises that the excuse for not resuming talks may well have outworn its welcome worldwide, it either means that India has meanwhile developed more agenda items, or that the USA, the main proponent of the talks, has got its wish. However, as India insists, even the talks were not part of any 'summit diplomacy, and were for the first time centre stage rather than on a summits sidelines, yet the talks did not form part of the Composite Dialogue process, which had previously been started under Mian Nawaz Sharif and survived the transition to General Pervez Musharraf. Pakistan has been anxious for the resumption of a process which pre-dates the war on terror, and with which it is familiar. However, Indias breaking loose means that it has not yet entirely abandoned the Mumbai attacks as an excuse not to do what it has so far managed to do - hold onto Kashmir, illegally occupied since 1948, and without giving the Kashmiri people their right to self-determination. At the same time, the way that BJP chief L K Advani behaved in Indian Parliament with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh showed another reason both sides, but especially India, are anxious to avoid the Kashmir issue: claims of a sell-out raised by the opposition. Though India is once again experiencing the situation that existed at the time of the genesis of the Kashmir issue; a Congress government and the BJPs ancestor-parties in opposition, the situation now is different to the extent that the BJP, while remaining a rightwing Hindu-extremist party, has also been in power and dealt with the issue, and may well come back again. However, power does not seem to have brought responsibility. Nevertheless, Pakistani opposition politicians, while not giving the support that governments get in tough foreign negotiations, have also remained restrained in their criticism, pr-obably because they realise the store the USA sets by these tal-ks. The government also did not deem it necessary to seek their support, an indication not just of their impending failure, but also that the talks were not being given that much importance. However, as predicted by India, the talks were an icebreaker. Though Indo-Pak dialogue is expected to return to its summit-sideline nature, behind-the-scenes US prodding should see the Composite Dialogue Process resumed in due course. At that time, Pakistan must be ready to press its demands, both backed by international law, for while the Kashmir issue has been before the UN Security Council for more than 60 years, the waters issue is governed by the Indus Waters Treaty, with the World Bank as a guarantor. Both are crucial to Pakistan, and cannot be compromised on by any government, not even at the price of American support. The US involvement in Indo-Pak disputes is based on its involvement in the region, which is based on using India as its local surrogate. Therefore, its involvement will only lead to a solution meeting Indian aims, even if such a solution will be neither just nor lasting. Therefore, Pakistan should not see the recent talks as a failure, but as a further exposure of Indian designs. E-mail: