AZAM KHALIL Diplomacy is to do and say, the nastiest thing in the nicest way. Isaac Goldberg A change of heart on the part of India to invite Pakistan for the resumption of talks has come mainly due to international pressure. The Americans had been trying to nudge India to the negotiating table to ease tensions with Pakistan that is engaged in the war against terror on its north-western border, and in some areas of Balochistan. The theory propounded by the Americans is that if Pakistani fears from Indian designs were calmed down, it may commit more troupes to the battleground against the Taliban and elements of Al-Qaeda. Defeat of Al-Qaeda and Taliban on the Pakistani side would mean that the insurgents fighting the US/NATO forces in Afghanistan would also be weakened. And the same theory holds good for Pakistan that would feel easy if the Americans won their war against the insurgents in Afghanistan. The Indians who have their own hegemonic designs in the region had been avoiding to talk to their Pakistani counterparts on various flimsy reasons and the latest one was when an act of terror was committed in the Indian financial hub, Mumbai. This was done in spite of the fact that the Indians have belatedly admitted to the fact that the attack on Mumbai was coordinated from within India and that handlers of the terrorists were Indian nationals. The Government of Pakistan had all along insisted that the negotiating table was the best bet for the two countries. And the sooner they resume talks, the better it would be for India and Pakistan. PM Manmohan Singhs government on its part was a coalition government and, therefore, not entirely independent in its actions. This was proved after the Indian prime minister met with his Pakistani counterpart Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani in the Egyptian city of Sharm El-Sheikh that created a mini scandal for the Congress-led government in India. This forced Singh to back pedal on some of his commitments made with Gilani. It was only after that the Congress 'queen Sonia Gandhi endorsed the statement issued by her prime minister in the lower house of Indian Parliament. The Indians, as usual, are now trying to scuttle the talks even before they have begun and contradictory voices are being heard across the border that are being issued by some members of the Indian Cabinet. Such an attitude will not help restore the mutual trust that is essential for the two sides to move forward and make any progress in their scarred relations. It would have been entirely appropriate if both India and Pakistan had agreed to resume the talks from where the Indians had abandoned the composite dialogue. Like this, time can be saved and real progress can be achieved between the two countries that will then be conducive to resolve more complex problems like the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. On the other hand, if the Indians harp on the old tune that Kashmir is an integral part of their country and is, therefore, not negotiable then no fruitful outcome can be expected. Moreover, the Indians have lately committed a serious breach on the arrangement of water distribution between the two countries and this question has taken an acute turn that is no less serious than the thorny issue of the Kashmir dispute. They have nearly succeeded in depriving Pakistan of its legitimate requirements of water from the rivers Jhelum and Chenab that flow into our country (Pakistan), through Kashmir, creating a serious problem for irrigation. Hence, the Government of Pakistan has now agitated that the issue of water sharing should also come on the table, so that it may not degenerate from where a point of no return is reached. If this happens, the destiny of both the people in India and Pakistan will be seriously jeopardised and ultimately leave no winners. One hopes that the Indians realise the situation and will not go to the extent which will force Pakistan to take the extreme option that is available to it. And before that point is reached they try to make an amicable settlement with India on the issue of water sharing. In this backdrop, the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan has become extremely significant for both the countries because further delay could have only increased the misgivings which already exist between the two neighbours. But while the Indians want the issue of cross-border terrorism to be the only point on the agenda, the Pakistanis want that the two countries should embrace all outstanding issues and then move forward. Otherwise, the peace talks would degenerate into a talk shop and achieve no fruitful purpose. It would be beneficial for India and Pakistan if the abandoned Eight-Point Agenda is taken up by the Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries, who are scheduled to meet on the 25th of this month. And also finalise and prioritise the agenda for future negotiations. It would be quite appropriate if the two countries agree to move forward, even if that means to take small steps forward, and resolutely decide that whatever the circumstances they will continue to move on the agreed agenda without wasting time. Then again, it would also be conducive if statements like the one issued by Indian Army Chief General Kapoor are avoided in which he threatened to take on both China and Pakistan at the same time, and tilt the war in the favour of India within 96 hours. However, the Indian political leadership is aware of the fact that even if the volume of Indian economy was double than that of China, still it would not be possible for them to take on China and Pakistan together. The Indians are also aware that in case of any military misadventure, their major industrial and military complexes will be wiped out by the Pakistani armed forces in the very beginning of the war. It is, therefore, unthinkable and sheer madness if some Indian leaders think that the Indians will survive a nuclear exchange with Pakistan; their human loss would be far in excess of Pakistans. The Indian leadership should discourage such statements because such irresponsible utterances only harm the process of negotiations and are a reason for the present setback that are seen between the bilateral relations in the two nuclear powered nations. While there is not much hope that both the sides would relent from their stated objectives, yet the good thing about the resumption of negotiations and contact at a responsible level is that both India and Pakistan are once again talking to one another. This is the only way both the countries can move forward and hope to resolve their outstanding differences in future. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com