If talks are called off with Pak, it would signal a victory for hard-liners

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There is a debate on whether India should hold talks with Pakistan after the Pathankot attack. One must remember that Pakistan based militants launching attacks on India after the hand of friendship has been extended is nothing new.

There was a Kargil, a 26/11 and now a Pathankot. All these incidents show that there is a faction in Pakistan which does not want peace.

Ind, Pak talks must not be cancelled

The Indian government is likely to take a final call on the talks with Pakistan by tomorrow. All indications are that talks will not be cancelled, but may be postponed for sure.

India and Pakistan must talk as ending dialogue would be a victory for hard-liners in Pakistan says Michael Kugelman, a senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In this interview with OneIndia, Kugelman outlines why India should continue talking with Pakistan and not let the hard-liners win.

Do you feel that India should continue talking with Pakistan?

Yes, I do agree that India should continue dialogue with Pakistan. Ending talks would mean a victory for the hard-liners in Pakistan. Terror groups and some elements of Pakistan's security establishment don't want any official engagement with India. Calling off talks may lead to more provocations along the border.

Whenever India has extended its hand of friendship to Pakistan there has been an attack. Should dialogue exist at all?

Ending the dialogue so soon after the process was resumed would validate criticism that India's policy toward Pakistan is "confused." It could also set the stage for a messy on-again, off-again pattern that New Delhi may try to avoid by putting the talks on ice for an extended period.

This would be a shame for Narendra Modi, who appears genuinely interested in some form of detente with Pakistan. One must also remember that ending talks will not end attacks.

More incidents are possible because many Pakistani militants that had been in Afghanistan targeting foreign troops have, with the withdrawal of most of those forces, redirected their attention to India.

Other terrorists-including Masood Azhar, the head of Jaish-e-Mohammed-have resurfaced after years of silence and have threatened to attack India. The threat of Pakistan-based militancy against India is growing, and it won't simply ease if India stops engaging Pakistan.

If attacks will continue, then what issues do you think talks would resolve?

The India-Pakistan dialogue process covers issues such as trade and water as well as territorial disputes and terrorism. If the two sides keep talking, and if hard-liners and vested interests don't impede progress, the countries could normalize trade relations (each has pledged to grant most-favored-nation status to the other) and reach data-sharing accords about water levels and flows for shared rivers.

These are important issues that shouldn't be hostage to security tensions. Making progress on them could generate goodwill and trust.

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