To those who had been led to believe that Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid had tried to befriend Pakistan by saying that it was time for the two countries to walk hand in hand, he quickly, barely a day later, made a volte face by adopting an aggressive posture towards Pakistan. Talking to a private TV channel, he proudly, rather defiantly, declared that New Delhi could make Islamabad “understand the language of war, cricket as well as negotiations”. It is hard to fathom the logic behind such a belligerent boast. Otherwise, looking back at the peaceful manner in which relations between the two countries have, in the recent past, been progressing in line with the Indian wishes, there appears little justification for such a militarist outburst. In the world of today, it is difficult to image that a nuclear power would dare challenge another nuclear power using war terminology. The most myopic of politicians would desist from going that far for reasons of the consequences of war between two such nations; neither could possibly escape a holocaust, crippling both for decades. Pakistan is, no doubt, surrounded by difficult problems these days, but the Indians should know that it can defend itself well. The possession of atomic weapons is very much a viable deterrence against any foolhardy attack.

Clearly, Mr Khurshid misses the lesson of the 10-month-long massive concentration of Indian troops on the international borders with Pakistan in 2002 when finding President Musharraf firm in his stand that Pakistan would use all resources at its disposal, and that implied the use of nuclear weapons as well, to defend the country, the Indian forces quietly beat a retreat, with all the war paraphernalia they had brought to the front. And suddenly all the sabre-rattling of Indian leaders during the period of the massing of forces, came to end.

Nevertheless, the significance of the Indian Foreign Minister’s remark is that it reflects the thinking of his government, which is somehow not satisfied with the concessions Pakistan has been making it. With one stroke Mr Salman Khurshid has rubbished our singular favour to his country – the grant of most favoured nation status – that, as many a perceptive analyst has warned, would work against our interests. Our leaders, both in the seat of power and in the opposition, the so-called civil society members and peaceniks who want to go all-out for gaining the goodwill of India, need to reset their focus on the reality of the situation. We ought to make it clear to India that improvement in relations between the two countries has to be a reciprocal adjustment, a quid pro quo that demands the settlement of disputes, with Kashmir as the first priority, in a just manner in response to any concession that we make. Trusting New Delhi to respond to our friendly gestures in equal measure on its own would prove suicidal!