Pakistan’s Premier Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Premier Narendra Modi came across each other on the sidelines of World Climate Conference in Paris, warmly shook hands and sat together for a very brief three-minute chat. What transpired between the two heads of governments of two belligerent neighbors of the South Asian region – India and Pakistan could be anybody’s guess. Speculations have been rife, since then, in Pakistan’s print and electronic media and other forums that perhaps the discussions held between the two leaders have, if not more, at least broken the ice and laid the foundation for resumption of the deadlocked bilateral talks between the two countries.

The deadlock in the talks, as known to all and sundry, was caused by the obstinate and haughty attitude of premier Modi’s government.

Regarding the Nawaz-Modi brief encounter on the sidelines of the World Climate Summit in Paris recently, it is being speculated by different quarters that perhaps the ice has finally been broken and the possibility of resumption of the stalled full-fledged bilateral dialogue between the two countries has now brightened. Beyond any shadow of doubt the warmth with which the two PM’s met and talked with each other, though very briefly, could be considered as a positive development. Particularly when seen in the backdrop of the existing estranged relations between the two important South Asian neighbors this appears to be true to some extent. Unquestionably, dialogue is the only way out of the present impasse between India and Pakistan. It is also the one and only means through which the two countries could resolve all its issues, including the core issue of Kashmir, amicably. What, however, is extremely significant for India in particular to understand is that sidetracking the core issue of Kashmir and pressuring Pakistan to enter into dialogue on other issues of mutual interest and benefit would not bear any fruit; it hasn’t in the past almost seven decades and it wouldn’t in the future also.

As vividly known to the world, including India, Pakistan has always demonstrated a very flexible and friendly attitude towards holding of bilateral negotiations on all issues, including the long-pending Kashmir issue with India. For known reasons, India has not heeded Pakistan’s sincere offer to come to the negotiating table. It has been avoiding the talks because it never wanted to discuss the Kashmir issue; what to speak of its resolution. Lack of sincerity on the part of India to iron out all bilateral issues, including the core issue of Kashmir, between the two countries has been evident right from the beginning. It has always been India that has created deadlocks in the bilateral talks, whenever these were held, because it was never prepared to discuss the issue of Kashmir that has been and continues to be a bone of contention between the two countries. That India, as reported in Pakistan’s print media lately, has shown some flexibility and discussed, besides other issues, the Kashmir issues as well during a berief and unplanned meeting held between the national security advisers of the two countries in Bangkok on December 6 is indeed a step in the right direction. One sincerely hopes and prays that the good beginning in bilateral parleys between the two countries not only augurs well for India and Pakistan but also bears positive results; results that would bring the two nations closer to each other and open doors for substantive cooperation in all spheres, particularly in trade and economics.

M FAZAL ELAHI,

Islamabad, December 7.