In the realm of Pakistan-India bilateral dialogue, ‘postponed for an indefinite period’ has been replaced with ‘likely to happen in near future’. And that it has successfully survived the January 2 Pathankot attack is a good sign. For the good of bilateral ties, thankfully the patience has not been fully exhausted. And the reason behind this enhanced resilience of the ever-feeble dialogue process is most likely the change of variables from Pakistani side of the equation.

From Pakistan’s side, those who have been allegedly enjoying the blessings of the military establishment have been facing a really hard time. Tightening of the noose around (alleged) proxies of the yesteryears (JuD and JeM), former military dictator General Retired Pervez Musharraf and the Kayani brothers stands witness to that. In the calculus of Pak-India equation, what matters the most is Pak military’s change of course in terms of the crackdown against terrorists of all shades and colors. This is a clear break from the past. And it goes to the credit of the current military leadership of the country.

“Condemning the Pathankot attack in one voice - for the first time following a terror strike in India, Pakistan's civilian and military leadership promised full cooperation with New Delhi in eradicating the menace of terrorism from the region, a denunciation that would be reassuring for South Block”, reported Times of India on January 9. This outright condemnation and assurance of cooperation on ‘actionable intelligence’ on part of Pakistan’s military is a welcome sign.

The past did not serve as a guide because the history did not repeat itself in its entirety this time. After the initial peace overtures and the likelihood of a meaningful “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue” the Pathankot attack did happen, but did not surprise many as could be fairly expected.

Previously we have seen that the peaceful overtures created positive vibes temporarily and were always thwarted in the middle by the dreaded inexplicable cross-border terrorism of sorts.

In 1999 Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee struck a chord with his Pakistani counterpart and undertook the bus yatra to cross the border. And the Lahore Declaration was signed. The thaw did not sustain and the Kargil adventure happened in less than three months.

Then in 2001, Vajpayee reached out to Pervez Musharraf and the framework for negotiations of the Agra agreement started with their talks in New Delhi. The thaw did not sustain again and the attacks on Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly building and the Indian Parliament followed the talks.

Then 2008 brought the infamous Mumbai attack claiming 166 lives in which the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group was blamed. The chances of any dialogue completely diminished. Thus far the history repeated itself in its entirety with all stages in proper sequence: Peace overtures, meetings, cross-border terrorism and derailment.

With this history of derailment of talks in mind, the Pathankot attack was not quite a shocker after Prime Minister Modi’s historic sojourn in Lahore and the reassurances of resumption of dialogue. The shocker rather was the resilience in the dialogue process especially brought by the consonance of civilian and military leadership of Pakistan.

There is perhaps a realization (or a similar variant) in the military circles that the sustainability of the dialogue is more important than bickering over the K-word and losing the whole dialogue in the process. And perhaps another realization is that the proxies as an instrument of foreign and security policy have failed us and now is the time to clamp down on both good and bad terrorists.

Pakistani authorities state that the Jaish-e-Muhammad leader Masood Azhar has been taken into a ‘protective custody’. It can be hoped that the extent of intelligence cooperation on part of the Indian authorities does not become a bone of contention and Pakistan takes the criminal prosecution in this case to its logical conclusion.

For those who always blamed Pakistan’s unwillingness for the delay in Mumbai attack trial and the bail of Zaki Ur Rehman Lakhvi of Lashkar-I-Taiba have to bear in mind that the ball is in the court of India this time. A meaningful cooperation with the JIT formed by Pakistan in the Pathankot attack is very important. In this regard, however the statement of Indian defence minister that the team may not be allowed to visit Pathankot throws cold water on the ground covered so far by the peace overtures.

However, finally one good omen out of the whole saga is that both India and Pakistan have realized that whenever there is some melting of the ice between the two there will always be hurdles in their way. And that they cannot let the hurdles caused by the hawks on both sides hijack the bilateral dialogue for good. The solution to the failure of dialogue is more dialogue because aloofness did not help anyone before.