The stunning terror attacks in Mumbai last week have left in their wake many a question the answers to which are being sought fervently. One of these questions is: what will be the future of nearly the five-year-old Pakistan-India peace process? Will it be reversed as some analysts are opining? Or will it survive the most lethal terrorist attacks India has suffered so far? Pakistan-India peace process was initiated following the issuance of a joint statement by former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf and the former Indian Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee on January 6, 2004 in Islamabad. Under this peace process, the two countries have held four rounds of composite dialogue on eight subjects, including dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, and decided to resume the fifth round on July 21 this year. Before the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, two meetings had been held under the fifth round: one held in July at foreign secretary's level and the other at interior secretary's level on November 26 hours before the attacks in Mumbai began. Ironically, the interior secretary's meeting, which was held in Islamabad, concluded with a pledge by the two countries to jointly fight terrorism in the region. As a mark of goodwill Pakistan had also released 101 Indian prisoners, mostly fishermen from its jail. Following their meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Session in September, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also called for the continuation of the peace process. But the atmosphere completely changed because of the Mumbai mayhem. A number of meetings between the officials of Pakistan and India scheduled in the coming weeks under the composite dialogue have been indefinitely postponed. These included meeting between the defence secretaries of the two countries on Siachin, a secretary's level meeting on Wullar Barage and other issues relating to water sharing, a meeting between the commerce secretaries to discuss trade and economic cooperation and a meeting of the cultural secretaries of the two countries to explore further promotion of people to people contacts and friendly exchanges between the two countries. A meeting on Sir Creek had been postponed a few days before the Mumbai attacks. It is also unlikely to be rescheduled in the coming weeks. According to the Indian sources, for the present and until, as the Indians say, "Pakistan government responds to the Indian concerns, these meetings are unlikely to be rescheduled." Foreign Minister Parnab Mukherji has further dampened the hopes for an early resumption of talks under the composite dialogue by declaring that under the existing circumstances talks with Pakistan could not be held. Indian public opinion as expressed through the statements of party leaders and comments in the press are also not in favour of resuming the peace process. These voices are in fact demanding a sterner action against Pakistan than merely lodging protests against the failure to curb terrorism. But can Pakistan and India afford to bury the peace process or postpone it indefinitely? In view of the risks involved in tense Pakistan-India relations, the two countries might well work towards lowering of the temperature and have a cool look at otherwise hot relations between them. There are three other reasons why hopes for the revival of the peace process should be kept alive. One, during the last about five years, the peace process has absorbed many shocks and survived a number of serious setbacks. In less than six months after the January 6 Joint Statement calling for the resumption of dialogue between Pakistan and India, the peace process came under the dark clouds of uncertainty about the outcome of the Indian elections in May 2004. Apprehensions were expressed that the peace process might not survive the defeat of BJP and the victory of the Congress. But the UPA government led by the Congress decided to continue with the peace process, which was initiated by NDA government led by BJP. The most serious threat to the nascent peace process was posed by July 2006 serial bomb blasts on Mumbai's suburban trains and terminals, when the Indian authorities hastened to implicate Pakistan without completing even the preliminary enquiries. The Indian reaction to the Mumbai train blasts in July 2006 was so strong that with the exception of the left parties all other parties, including the ruling Congress party asked the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop the peace process with Pakistan. But the better sense prevailed on the Indian leadership and the peace talks, which were temporarily interrupted commenced late that year. The bomb blasts in Jaipur, Delhi and Banglore had also cast dark shadows on the peace process as fingers were pointed at militant groups based in Pakistan. In July 2008, Indian embassy was attacked by Taliban. The Indian government, as usual, alleged a Pakistani hand in it. India's National Security Advisor, Mr Narayan, who has resigned following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, went to the extent of publicly stating that ISI was involved in the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul. The same allegation was repeated by the Indian Foreign Secretary, Mr Shiv Shankar Menon, when he met his Pakistani counterpart in New Delhi in July. The peace process was "under stress" declared the joint statement issued after a meeting between President Zardari and Prime Minister Singh in New York in last September. But the peace process survived these threats, and the two countries decided to commence the fifth round of composite dialogue after declaring the progress achieved in the previous four rounds as "satisfactory." Two, although there has been no dramatic breakthrough on the conflict resolution between Pakistan and India, the peace process has made appreciable contribution towards lessening of tension, promotion of connectivity and expansion of people to people contacts between the two countries. Bilateral trade has grown manifold, for the first time trans-LoC trade has commenced in addition to Muzaffarabad-Srinagar and Rawalakot-Poonch bus services, and there has been unprecedented flow of people across international borders. The peace process has built a number of important constituencies in both Pakistan and India, and it is hoped that they will not allow the terrorists to derail it. As President Zardari and Prime Minister Singh observed in their joint statement, the peace process has made a useful and constructive contribution. The two countries have a firm and long standing commitment not to allow the terrorists to sabotage the efforts for peace between the two countries. Three, international community has very important stakes in keeping the South Asian region secure and peaceful for a variety of reasons. The war against terrorism would be seriously undermined if tension between Pakistan and India escalates into a clash. Such a clash has the potential of developing into a nuclear exchange, which is totally unacceptable not only to the people of South Asia but also to other members of the international community. Major powers like the US, China, UK and Russia had played important behind the scene role in facilitating the resumption of Pakistan-India talks in 004. These powers would be equally anxious to sustain these talks following the Mumbai attacks. The peace process has its own dynamics and there are very strong imperatives for both Pakistan and India to normalise their relations so that they can jointly meet the challenge posed by terrorists in the region. The writer is senior research fellow, Islamabad Policy Research Institute, Islamabad E-mail: