Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart from Pakistan Mohammad Nawaz Sharif greeted each other at a dinner in honour of visiting heads of state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana.
This was the first time when the two prime ministers have spoken to each other in person after December 2015 when Modi made a surprise visit to Lahore to attend Sharif’s grand-daughter’s wedding. Sharif and Modi had also spoken before the former’s open-heart surgery in May 2016.
Though the brief engagement between the two premieres is believed to not have moved beyond further, but people close to the two leaders said that Modi enquired about Sharif’s health and that of his family who he had met during his surprise visit to Pakistan.
There has been speculation about a possible meeting between Modi and Sharif in Astana to ease the growing tension between the two neighbours. The two leaders were in the same room on Friday too as they formally join the six-nation SCO grouping that focuses on security and trade.
But does this brief meeting in Astana constitute a thaw in ties that have been in free fall since the 2 January attack in Pathankot last year?
Analysts do not see the possibility of an immediate return to normalcy in ties or a resumption of peace talks between the two countries given the current state of relations.
Relations between India and Pakistan are witnessing an all time low after the incident of alleged beheading of two Indian soldiers in Krishna Ghati sector, cross LoC shelling and the rising tensions over Kashmir between the two neighbours.
But what is worrisome i the fact that the hostility between the two neighbours cots the people of the stat dearly.
The most frightening situation occurs in the habitations in the border areas. They often bear the brunt of the hostility as guns roar and mortars pound on their houses, pastures and agricultural land. From Kargil to Uri and Poonch to Teetwal, the border residents constantly live under the threat of escalation. When the diplomatic row between the two countries intensifies, it steals off the peace and tranquility of every individual living along the borders from the either side. Unfortunately, this aspect of the public suffering does not count in the power corridors of New Delhi and Islamabad.
The acrimonious atmosphere in the region has a direct impact on Kashmir. Since last year the ground situation is explosive and the writ of the government and its forces is on a continuous decline. Going by the past experiences, it is evident that Kashmir has had periods of enviable tranquility when the two countries were on a path of engagement. The period between 2002 and 2007 can be gauged on this scale. But when the hostility occurs and intensifies, the situation in Kashmir also goes out of the hands. Based on this premise, it is always sensible for the two countries to shun the bad blood and pick up threads for developing a friendly atmosphere in the region.