The year 2015 is ended with an optimism as the coming year of Pak-India relations began on a positive note of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore on 25 December 2015. The meeting between the two Prime Ministers was held in Jati Umrah Lahore in a cordial environment in which the two leaders expressed desire to carry forward the dialogue process for the betterment of South Asian people and good  neighborly relations in the region. According to the Foreign Office spokesperson, Qazi Khalilullah, “Both the prime ministers agreed to enhance cooperation and work together to establish good neighborly relations”.

Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan is not only a good will gesture but it is a bold initiative of the both leaders to take the countries towards peace, tranquility and prosperity. Sources close to foreign office informed the some media person that the two leaders have agreed the resumption of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD), in this context the Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and India likely to meet in Islamabad on January 15, 2016. Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has confirmed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi have agreed the resumption of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue and foreign secretaries would meet in Islamabad in the middle of January to finalize the schedule and modalities of Dialogue. Sartaj Aziz also told the reporters that the major political parties in Pakistan had welcomed the goodwill visit of Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan. While India’s major opposition party, Indian National Congress, questioned Modi’s visit to Pakistan, saying “serious information like this should not have been revealed through Twitter, It is unfortunate that we get to know about prime minister’s visit through a tweet, India and Pakistan relations are not so good as yet that he stops over there on his way back from another country,” spokesperson of Congress Ajoy Kumar told the reporters.

After a breakthrough visit of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Islamabad on 9th of December 2015, she appeared before the Indian parliaments and said that war is not an option and dialogue is the only way forward with Pakistan, to fight the “shadow of terror”. While Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz told the National Assembly that the foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India will meet soon to discuss modalities regarding the bilateral dialogue which will include matters related to peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage, Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues, people to people exchanges and religious tourism.

Since Modi’s coming into power, chances of a war like situation between Pakistan and India have remained high with foreign secretary-level talks cancelled last year and security advisers’ dialogue discarded in August 2015. But the relationship is moving in a positive trajectory after Modi and Sharif resumed high-level contacts with a brief conversation at the climate change summit in Paris. In this short meeting both the leaders decided a national security advisers meeting in Bangkok and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visit to Islamabad in the context of Heart of Asia Istanbul processes  conference. Now in Jati Umrah Lahore, Nawaz Modi agreed, the Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and India would meet in Islamabad on January 15, 2016. Sources disclosed the facts that New Delhi has withdrawn from its recent position on Kashmir and is ready to discuss all outstanding issue including Jammu and Kashmir.

Narendra Modi, the second Indian Prime Minister from the Bharatia Janata Party (BJP) after Atal Bihari Vajpayee, visiting Pakistan on PM Nawaz Sharif’s birthday on December 25, is seen by some quarters as not a coincidence. Something is behind this much bigger than visible to eyes. Let’s hope that something concrete comes out of these meetings. It is indeed welcome that Pakistan and India have decided to finally talk to resolve disputes. South Asian people need peace, development and prosperity more then ever. The war mentality only benefits the enemies of both countries who want to profit from its conflicts.

Nawaz should be extra careful for this sudden change in Modi’s move. Both the leaders are facing challenges in their respective home turf and they have to do something to change the current narrative of rising poverty, intolerance and income inequalities. Besides this optimistic approach, those familiar with Indian mind-set know there has to be a well thought out plan behind this visit; perhaps transit trade to Afghanistan as it will benefit India many folds, or China’s keen interest in gaining strategic advantage through Balochistan. Whatever the actual reason, Pakistan’s need is to maneuver the whole situation in Pakistan’s favour. Some quarters say India has realized that war-mongering on LoC and along Pak-India border will not help to achieve India’s economic goals in the region, but some others experts say that this surprise visit to Lahore was an outcome of backdoor diplomacy. This is done after huge pressure from the world on India to have a better relationship with Pakistan. World powers need Pakistan to lead the war again terrorism. Pakistan has always been accusing India for not taking the lead and keeps supporting some groups for proxy war in Afghanistan.

To be honest it actually feels good to appreciate and compliment one another instead of spewing hatred. I hope this will escort a new era of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. Nawaz Sharif and Modi both need applause. I think Nawaz Sharif is sincere towards good relations with India. But I don’t think there will be any drastic change in the relationship between the two countries. The trust deficit is huge, but out of the box thinking is needed from both sides. There is no reason why the South Asian region can’t be as dynamic as others. Things can start changing if we first start thinking positively. It might take few more decades till we live like good neighbors. Both the Prime Ministers have taken a wonderful initiative and this type of out of box thinking is the needed.

Lots of people are rising to focus on core issues, it’s also needs to be kept in mind that China has $100 billion’s trade with India despite of differences and conflicts. In comparison, Pakistan and India’s bilateral trade is only US$ 2.35 billion in 2014-15 and trade through third countries is estimated at US$ 3.54 billion. In these contexts we need a new journey, new initiatives towards peace, and meaning full cooperation in the SAARC region.