Modi government’s usually robust foreign policy has unfortunately had a lacklustre vision for Pakistan so far.

NSAs of India and Pakistan in Bangkok

PTI
After a screeching halt around four months back, Indo-Pak talks are back on track. The interlude was a brief meeting between Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif at the sidelines of the Paris Climate Talks. But with the NSAs and foreign secretaries in tow, a structured talk process has again started which can only come as a welcome sign to all the peace-loving citizens of both the countries.Modi government’s usually robust foreign policy has unfortunately had a lacklustre vision for Pakistan so far. It has been mainly been in start-stutter-stop mode reacting to provocation by extremists operating from across the border. It started in a positive way with Modi inviting Sharif for his oath-taking ceremony, but soon lost its way. In a way it is understandable too. A nationalistic party(as BJP claims itself to be) is almost supposed to have a ‘macho’ foreign policy with no compromise on terror issues. But cancellation of talks which suits fittingly with the script of the terrorists and their masters is probably not the right way to go for any government, as it finally achieves nothing once the brownie points earned for acting ‘tough’ has been counted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Barkha Dutt in a recent interview spoke about how Modi is guided by the idea of personal glory, eager to leave a trail of legacy. According to her, it is not ideology that guides Modi. Perhaps that aptly explains this change of stance viz-a viz talks with Pakistan. The last PM who visited Pakistan was Vajpayee, who created a lot of goodwill and created a roadmap. Sadly, shortly afterwards, the Kargil War ensued. That has led to a huge void in trust, and diplomacy between India- Pakistan has become a cloak-dagger game. But Modi with a strong mandate, can actually make a difference and take Indo-Pak talks to the next level. According to reports, these fresh round of talks also have the blessings of the Pakistan army. Engagement with Pakistan can only be the logical way forward, so that their hypocrisy can be called out if there is transgression on their part. A pre-cursor to these move will be Sushma Swaraj’s visit this week, as Modi is slated to visit Pakistan during SAARC summit next year. The fact that both sides are willing to at least start the dialogue process again, as was indicated in the joint statement where terror and Kashmir were mentioned, is interesting.Some believe it is a ‘victory’ for Pakistan as the Ufa-statement didn’t mention Kashmir. But Kashmir is one of the big hurdles or even the most important one to normalize India- Pakistan relationship. To ignore it and beat about the bush will not yield any result and will be merely a dialogue full of semantics.Still the relationship remains inherently fragile and any major attack on Indian soil will put enormous pressure on Narendra Modi from his own core supporters to call off the talks. It is to be seen if Modi can rise above that and reign in the naysayers, the way he ultimately did with the ‘go-to-Pakistan brigade’, when he said that no one needed to prove his patriotism in this country. Also, as a measure of goodwill, Indian government should seriously give a go-ahead to the India- Pakistan cricket series. The hawks might cry hoarse, but the soothing comfort provided by the doves will be enough to look forward to — a better future.

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Indo-Pak NSA talks: When Modi government finally chose pragmatism over ideological jingoism