One step at a time
The nearly five-hour long talks between the foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India have ended on a positive note. Keeping in view the prevailing level of tension between the two countries, this constitutes a step forward. Both sides have noted all the major issues on their respective agendas which would be taken up in months to come. There is also a need now for new CBMs to improve the level of mutual trust. The first step in the direction has to be ensuring peace on the LoC and the Working Boundary. Similarly, instead of political leaders from both sides conducting diplomacy through media, the task should be handed over to cool-headed negotiators with the political leadership providing them guidelines.
Unless measures are jointly taken to put an end to border incidents, the expectations roused by the Tuesday meetings might turn out to be short-lived. Talks would inspire little confidence if attacks continued to take toll of the lives of soldiers and common people living on both sides of the borders. What is required besides goodwill at the topmost government level is increased interactions between DGMOs and local commanders. During the last three years the civilian and military leaders have added fuel to the fire through provocative statements which were duly publicised through the media. There is need on their part to exercise self-restraint to ensure the success of the talks.
Both Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi are keen for the social and economic development of their respective countries. Both want to strengthen SAARC which has failed to realise its potential on account of the lack of understanding between Pakistan and India. During the Tuesday meeting, both sides discussed ideas and initiatives to take SAAC forward. Pakistan which is to host SAARC in 2016 is engaged in implementing the China-Pak Economic Corridor which besides linking Pakistan to Afghanistan would also connect them with China and Central Asia. Pakistan-India relations need urgent improvement to let all SAARC countries benefit from the opportunity.