The two-day discussions between India and Pakistan have yielded positive results – according to the government, an agreement has been reached to redesign India’s Miyar Hydroelectric project. Revisiting the Pakul Dul and Lower Kalnai project designs has also been agreed upon. But that’s not all. Both countries have also agreed to secretary-level talks in Washington in April, for discussion on the Ratle and Kishanganga hydropower projects, with the World Bank as mediator. For Pakistan, this is a diplomatic victory – India relenting to talks when it publicly follows its policy of ‘diplomatic isolation’ against Pakistan is no small feat.

As always, there were all sorts of expectations surrounding the talks, in the hopes that they would achieve much more than a resolution to water issues between the two countries. But thinking that this round of talks could achieve anything more than their stated objective is folly. Expecting too much from the neighbouring state has cost us more than once. Pakistan had to enter this round with its expectations low and focused on the water issue only. The fact that this round bore any fruit can be viewed as a sign for the government to engage India even further. The rest comes later.

This is the first time US intervention between the two countries has had any kind of positive impact in the bilateral relations of Pakistan and India, and goes to show what a little persuasion by the world’s superpower can accomplish, if it wants to. Conflict resolution can come really easily to the US, if it is so inclined. Pakistan can only hope that the US accepts the reality that India so often ignores; cooperation with Pakistan is the only way forward and the mutual antagonism is of absolutely no use.

India’s ruling party has used the tried and tested tactic of maligning a foreign threat as the ultimate enemy in the ambition to garner more votes; and this has worked wonders for BJP. It has just recently secured a convincing victory in India’s most populous state. Does this mean that it can now forgo populist rhetoric (at least for now) to mend some bridges with Pakistan? Hopefully, because even the Indian hardline government has to realise that working with Pakistan is the only way forward. The talks in April will be the big test, if Pakistan can get India to come to terms with a treaty it is a signatory to, there are hopes for more successful negotiations in the near future. However, the diplomatic missions of both countries must first pass this litmus test in April.