Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid wove a web of fantasy to the South Asian Free Media Association conference in Amritsar when he addressed it on Sunday, but his insistence on the handover of those Pakistanis India accused of the 2008 Mumbai massacre showed the iron Indian fist that was under his talk of breakfast in one country of South Asia, lunch in a second and dinner in a third. He did not speak of the main factor blocking this, a vision made physically possible by modern means of communication, Indian intransigence. South Asia has many commonalties, but one of the most prominent, is the fact that India is involved in disputes with all its neighbours. While the biggest country in South Asia, India is also the biggest single factor responsible for its instability. If India was to adopt a good-neighbour policy, it would work to resolve those issues which its neighbours find of importance, even existential importance. Perhaps, the prime example is the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, which India tries to pretend does not even exist, but there is also the Tamil issue with Sri Lanka or the Farrakha Barrage dispute with Bangladesh, which show that India itself is its own worst enemy, if indeed its vision corresponds with the honeyed words of Mr Khurshid.

However, the Mumbai massacre provides a case in point. India wants cynically to use it to distract attention from the Kashmir issue, and to throw the blame for its own internal failures on to Pakistan. Also, it does not want to observe the norms of relations between sovereign states, and does not want to give the evidence needed by Pakistani courts before any handover takes place. In fact, India seems to be taking umbrage at the fact that Pakistan has not handed over suspects solely on Indian say-so.

Under these circumstances, India’s hectoring tone, of making the Most Favoured Nation status grant demand shows that India does not see its diplomacy as aimed at achieving an arrival at an understanding of a mutuality of interests, but as making other countries in the region fall in with Indian wishes. Unless Mr Khurshid manages to wrest Indian foreign policy on to a more equitable course than at present, he will find that his vision will not come to fruition. To make it come true, India will have to solve its problems with its neighbours, none of which involve India having to abandon more than its intransigence.