After careful deliberation, Nawaz Sharif has accepted the invitation of Narendra Modi to visit India on his swearing-in ceremony on the 26th, and have a bilateral discussion with India’s new Prime Minister the next day. The invitation itself was a masterpiece in international diplomacy. By inviting all the members of SAARC and securing their subsequent acceptances, all eyes were on Nawaz Sharif to see what he would say. A no would have been seen as a direct affront, considering that all the other SAARC members have accepted the invitation. However, even though Nawaz Sharif has made his intentions on improving ties with India no secret, a half an hour meeting was not what our Prime Minister had in his mind, which was why the government took its time in thinking before giving an answer.

Of course, there will be people on both sides that will be doing all they can to remind everyone of the volatile history we have shared with India. PM Modi’s invitation will be seen by the hardliners in India as shift in stance, considering his strong rhetoric regarding cross-border terrorism during the election campaign. Nawaz Sharif’s acceptance would be seen by the hawks on this side as a sign of weakness, entering into dialogue with the new Indian government on a wobbly stance considering that Nawaz Sharif would be one of seven leaders that are meeting the new Prime Minister on the 27th. But it is important to remember that those that propagate this view thrive on conflict, and the tenuous relationship between India and Pakistan. A change in the status quo would make them irrelevant.

But contrary to popular belief, there is a lot of good that could come from this meeting as well. Nawaz Sharif’s acceptance is reiterating his commitment to overcome old issues, and this meeting will be the perfect opportunity to assess where the new Indian government stands. Mr. Modi’s body language and his words will be very informative for our Prime Minister. In the past, both sides wanted to resolve the big issues before they started trading. But this time it might be different. A thirty minute meeting might not achieve what the Prime Minister has in mind, but it will be a great way to steer the discourse to focus on the small issues that can work towards improving the Pak-India relationship. There will be no added weight of delivering any concrete results from this visit, and both sides can go in without having to worry about the losses or gains.