India-Pakistan Peace Talks Better Taken in Doses

With both Indian and Pakistani media sources reporting -- and largely supporting -- renewed hope for the re-engagement of formal talks between the two nations, panelists at a recent Asia Society talk, "India and Pakistan: Back from the Brink?" agreed that a unique window of opportunity to rev up the historically stalled negotiations now exists -- and must be seized.

Dr. Adil Najam told event attendees that the time is now ripe, but that relations could soon sour if not taken advantage of. Najam, a professor in international relations at Boston University, said the key to successful, substantive talks will be a willingness to continue a comprehensive dialogue, despite expected disagreements.

Using the Indus Valley Water Treaty as an example, Najam said that India and Pakistan should set a framework for talks that requires both sides to meet regularly, regardless of outcomes, for the sheer advantage that an open channel of communication provides. The Indus Valley Treaty, a resource-sharing agreement between the two countries, requires the advisory board to meet for talks at prescribed intervals, otherwise the treaty becomes null and void. That creates a significant incentive for both parties to stay at the negotiating table.

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