Pakistan’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security, Sartaj Aziz, met with Indian Minister External Affairs, Mr Salman Khurshid on the margins of Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers dialogue in New Delhi, on Tuesday. The meeting took place at a time when general elections in India are just around the corner, and the ruling Congress party finds itself lagging behind the main contender, BJP, according to poll results. BJP had strongly protested the Indian government allowing the meeting to take place, aiming to keep the government in check and maintaining its strong anti-Pakistan stance, which it believes is crucial for success in the upcoming elections. Mr Sartaj Aziz’s meeting with Hurriyat and other Kashmiri leaders further shook Indian confidence. While speaking to the media about the issue, Mr Salman Khurshid expressed his reservations, and insisted that Pakistan must respect India’s “sentiments, point of view and sensitivities” for a meaningful dialogue to take place.

Apart from the usual diplomatic jargon and assurances of goodwill, which are usually relied upon in the absence of meaningful progress, the talks yet again failed to yield any noticeable results. Pakistan’s eagerness to engage in dialogue which can pave the way for resolving long-standing disputes is yet to be reciprocated by India. At the UN General Assembly session earlier this year, it was Pakistan which extended the bilateral dialogue offer to India, which was reluctantly accepted by PM Manmohan Singh amid protests from opposition parties and hardliners at home. The meeting of director-generals of military operations (DGMOs), which still hasn’t taken place, was also Pakistan’s initiative in order to halt the ongoing skirmishes along the LoC. Mr Salman Khurshid rightly pointed out that talks could not take place in isolation, and suitable circumstances were necessary to move forward. But, this circular argument must end.

It’s quite amusing, really: serious talks cannot take place until suitable circumstances are created. The only way to create suitable circumstances is through serious talks, but that cannot happen due to the aforementioned reason. Clearly, the two countries are caught in a vicious cycle, and during different times, have preferred to stay there in order to achieve unintelligently defined objectives. If nuisances, which are the very product of the failure of diplomatic discourse, are presented as justifications to maintain the unhelpful status quo, then surely, nothing will ever change. There is a need to broaden the scope of talks, to engage effectively and frequently, so the relationship does not find itself at the mercy of old, familiar laments. Until then, the madness will continue, and both neighbours will never run out of reasons to turn away from each other.