Seven years after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, India and Pakistan have agreed to resume structured dialogue between them. Not a promise of dialogue, or preliminary talks before a dialogue – a proper structured dialogue that deals with most outstanding issues between the neighbouring countries, especially the status of Jammu and Kashmir. The breakthrough is a welcome side effect of the Heart of Asia Conference, which is convened primarily to deal with the Afghanistan’s security problems. Considering that progress was made on that count too – the Afghan government plans to restart dialogue with ‘reconcilable’ Taliban and increase cooperation – means the conference in Islamabad was an unexpected success. Of course, numerous considerations and hurdles stand in the way of any lasting agreement, and Pakistan-India relations have seen countless false dawns, so the reader may be forgiven for taking the bonhomie with a pinch of salt.

Regardless of the political difficulties in achieving lasting peace, the resumption of a structural dialogue is the first step. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been often criticised for lacking vision in diplomatic relations but that criticism is rapidly washing off. He persevered with Pakistan India dialogue even after several setbacks when it would have been much easier to drop the project and cash in on the prevailing nationalistic fervour. Arranging the conference in Pakistan and making sure key representatives attend is another success for the prime minister.

However, restarting the dialogue was the easy part, making a concentrated effort to ensure that the talks lead somewhere will be the true test of Nawaz’s foreign policy credentials. Kashmir, Siachen and water allocation may be on the table but that does not mean a solution is possible. The BJP remains just as hawkish and religiously divisive and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj may have a tough time convincing her superiors to openly discuss the issues.

How we structure the talks are also of prime importance, if the Kashmir issue is made the prime quotient, with every other agreement subservient to its resolution, then progress on other important matters, such as security, border control, trade, and cultural exchange are also likely to fail. Pakistan also has the prerogative when it comes to fulfilling the Indian sides prime demand; conviction of Mumbai attackers and inclusion in the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), which would allow Indian goods over land passage to Afghanistan. If India is truly interested in an open ended dialogue then Pakistan does have the ability to reciprocate their demands – if it wishes to.

At the end of the day this may be just another false start, but the fact that both nations keep on trying is reassuring. Only one of these dialogues needs to succeed for there to be peace.