Last one year or so has been a lean period for our easterly neighbour. After the departure of Bush from the White House, there has been a rapid decline in Americas India pampering trend. Nevertheless, Bushs carryforwards by the current administration continue to relapse. One such recurrence was Robert Gates declaration that it might not be possible for India to hold back in case there is a recurrence of Mumbai like incident and that America may not be able to restraint India either. Soon after, Mr Holbrooke picked the cues and repeated the line. Knowing well that Pakistan is having 26/11 like occurrences every other day and is unable to stop them, yet Gates chose to oblige his Indian hosts by making such an out of place threatening comment. Surely the objective was two-fold; to please India, and to arm-twist Pakistan for doing the American bidding in its damage reduction spree pertaining Afghanistan fiasco. What Secretary Gates was trying to convey was that deterrence between the two nuclear armed neighbours was so fragile that it could effectively be taken hostage by non-state actors. His assessment regarding frailty of bilateral mechanism for crisis management between India and Pakistan was indeed pretty accurate. It is a disturbing reality that theoretically even amply paid underworld dons could stage acts of the sort which may lead to a war between India and Pakistan. Certainly, Gates must have played his part behind the doors to cajole Indians into resumption of dialogue with Pakistan. However, his public comments were interesting, leaving one wondering whether Gates was pointing towards the loss of American leverage over India or trying to indicate that USAs sapping will to carry on playing the role of sole superpower to diffuse regional crises or was it India trying to make a last push through Gates. Soon after his departure from the region, India came forward with the proposal of talks with Pakistan, presumably for resumption of composite dialogue process which Pakistan has been striving to jump start since its disruption in the wake of the unfortunate incident - the Mumbai carnage. Upping of ante to a new peak during a well orchestrated humiliation of Pakistani cricketers at the IPL auction venue, followed by this anti-climax of dialogue offer makes an interesting case study in Indias yet another Machiavellian overture towards Pakistan. Over the previous year, India had to face a strategic climb down on various counts. To Indias chagrin, America now wants to have strategic partnership with China. The current administration sees China as a stabilising factor for the region. The correction is indeed timely, and is based on an honest assessment. China with its cool foreign policy and impeccable display of urge for tranquillity hardly has any violent disputes with adjoining states. On any count China has more potential to play regional balancing role effectively as compared to India which has border or other thorny disputes with almost all its neighbours; and is keen to systematically cultivate autonomist and disruptive elements in neighbouring states. India got another rebuttal in the context of its despicable designs in Afghanistan and from there into Pakistan. It came promptly and indeed glaringly, when India was not invited to some of the recently held important conferences on Afghanistan. Moreover, the people of Afghanistan are becoming increasingly weary of Indian keenness for taking over the baton of occupation from the Americans. Probably, General McChrystals appraisal about Indias wheeling and dealing in Afghanistan, and its fallout on Pakistan has triggered the alarm bells in appropriate quarters. India tacitly acknowledged its interference in Balochistan during the Sharm El-Sheikh summit. Instability in the region, emanating out of this meddling, is having telling effects in reverse paddling the NATO/ISAF gains against extremists in Afghanistan. Moreover, some events in Iran are also radiating the same cause and effect aroma. In fact, India is playing indiscreetly and the effects could reach its own heartland. Illegitimate diversion of Pakistans share of water in violation to the Indus Water Basin Treaty, and contrary to good governance and interstate practices conforming to rights of lower riparian, is the recently emerged act of high handedness; it is now a snowballing irritant. Pumping away of water from the tributaries of the rivers belonging to Pakistan is not compatible with good neighbourly relations. Pakistan has exclusive rights over the water of river Chenab; however India is siphoning off about 40 percent of its flow. Recent discovery of a 48 kilometre long underground tunnel near Kargil to clandestinely divert water from Indus River, over which India has no consumer rights, speaks about the integrity of Indian leadership. To top it off was the recent doctrinal day-dreaming by now phasing out General Deepak Kapoor. He aired the long harboured ambition of fighting China and Pakistan simultaneously and to achieve tangible military objectives within 96 hours. It is a well known fact that when the general was required to deliver, he chickened out. Now, he is probably trying to make up for that deficiency prior to his retirement. Nevertheless, the intent expressed by him is a representative anchor thought of the Right-wing political mainstream. The US-India nuclear deal, well known as Agreement 123 is also running into difficulties as it lacks compatibility with President Obamas vision of non-proliferation. India has all along been against NPT terming it as discriminatory regime and a source of perpetuating nuclear apartheid. However during his last visit to the US, Indian prime minister was lobbying for Indias entry into NPT as a nuclear weapon state. Going back on words and pledges is nothing unusual in Indian diplomatic culture. One such stark summersault was by the founding prime minister of India on the Kashmir issue. However, the aboriginal struggle in IHK has kept the issue of self-determination as relevant to-date as it was at the time of independence. India is a long time defaulter of the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir. Under pressure, Indian officials of minister level had been issuing the statements that Indian government was prepared to withdraw a significant number of troops from the restive IHK region as the incidents of violence had considerably reduced. Unfortunately, the Indian media and officials have once again changed their mind and have embarked upon a disinformation campaign to project an increased level of border crossings into IHK. This indicates that India is not sincere to withdraw troops from IHK. The preliminary findings of recent target killing spree in Karachi are pointing fingers towards Indian agencies which appear to have been involved in providing lethal weapons and disbursing money for hiring serial killers. If initial perceptions are further substantiated through solid evidence, it could cause a major setback to the bilateral relations which have already hit the bottom rock. It is in this strategic environment that India has grudgingly come forward with a proposal for resumption of talks. History is replete with incidents that whenever bilateral dialogue was at the verge of delivering, India derailed the process on one pretext or other. However, well wishers of this region tend to believe, yet for another time, that the offer is a genuine one. Pakistan is ready to take it on its face value. Welcome back to pavilion. It is always better late than never; let us resume the process where it got interrupted on 26/11, the previous year; starting with Kashmir. The writer is a retired air commodore. Email: