Tridivesh Singh In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, it has become even more arduous to predict the course of Indo-Pak relations. Glimmers of hope appear, but they are ephemeral, as was evident from the Sharm-El-Sheikh meeting between the Indian and Pakistani PMs. The joint statement issued at the end of the meeting evoked such scathing criticism in India that the Indian government had to virtually backtrack on the agreement. Yet again, developments in the domain of the Indo-Pak relations have some positives as well. The first development was the meeting between the Indian and Pakistani foreign minister (FMs) on September 27 in New York. The other positive development being the Indo-Pak encounter at the Centurion Park; this was the first clash between the two arch rivals in more than one year. It would be important to mention that the former had refused to visit Pakistan for a cricket series in the wake of the Mumbai mayhem. But what came out of both these crucial developments? If one were to analyse the outcome of the meeting between the FMs, nothing substantial emerged. India was unequivocal in its stance that resuming the composite dialogue is out of question, unless Pakistan takes credible action against one of the alleged masterminds of the Mumbai carnage, Lashkar-i-Taiba head Hafiz Saeed. Pakistan, on the other hand, expressed willingness to take action against Hafiz Saeed, but made it abundantly clear that evidence against Saeed just was half-baked. While most analysts have written off these talks as being inconsequential, it is important to understand that ignoring domestic political compulsions, would amount to hara-kiri (ritual suicide) for both sides. The Indian FM needed to tread an especially cautious path as any concession to Pakistan, would be viewed, by the opposition in India, as a capitulation to Pakistan. This was more than evident from the Sharm-El-Sheikh declaration which in the eyes of many weakened Indias stand vis--vis Pakistan. The mere mention of dialogue with Pakistan was enough for creating flutters in the national capital. Similarly, the Pakistani FM could not afford to yield an inch. So, perhaps it suited both countries to agree to disagree. There were some clear differences between the FMs meeting and the cricket match between both countries. Firstly, while no one emerged victorious from the FMs talk, Pakistan was the clear victor in the one day encounter between the two countries. Secondly, unlike the two FMs, the cricket teams did not have any constituencies to cater to, though sometimes cricket enthusiasts in both countries are more unforgiving than political adversaries. Moreover, some positives also emerged from the cricket encounter. Firstly, in spite of the tense relationship between both countries, the match was played in an amicable atmosphere. It would not be incorrect to say that this was a radical departure from the past. Secondly, it is very tough for cricket fans on either side to accept defeat. In the past, cricketers have been stoned and had eggs pelted at them. Fortunately, Indian fans were quite sporting in accepting Pakistans triumph. It would be naive to link a 'one day international match and diplomacy, especially the vexed Indo-Pak relationship. Yet, reactions of the public to Indo-Pak encounters are a good barometer of public opinion. The maturity exhibited by cricketing fans from both sides reinforces the fact that there is a desire to bring back a modicum of normalcy to the relationship between both countries, which suffered a severe jolt thanks to the Mumbai attacks. Perhaps both sides need to be a bit bold and need to take some calculated risks, which may ruffle a few feathers, but help in the long run. For starters, both government need to start playing with a 'straighter bat The writer is a research associate at the Institute of South Asian Studies.