It is always a risk to claim that the tide may be turning in India-Pakistan relations, where contentious security and political concerns have famously trumped avenues for collaboration time and time again. It is prudent, then, to approach last week’s meeting between India and Pakistan’s foreign secretaries with a degree of caution. It is far too early at this stage to know the actual significance of this brief meeting.
But even if it did not lead to any breakthroughs, the meeting itself should not be ignored. It was an outcome, and a reflection, of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s perseverance to constructively engage with Pakistan over the past few months. To his credit, after an initially inconsistent Pakistan policy, Modi has shown resolve to improve bilateral relations by resisting familiar challenges at home and abroad to talks with Islamabad. Despite recent turbulence, bilateral relations have remained surprisingly stable.
Modi’s response to the attack on an Indian air force base in Pathankot, near the Pakistani border, in January, clearly indicated his commitment to improve ties. Coming on the heels of the decision to revive the official India-Pakistan dialogue, the attack could have easily been followed by a predictable script of mutual recriminations and demands that close any window of opportunity for engagement.