Prime Minister Narendra Modi always manages to surprise and he did that yesterday with his impromptu visit to Lahore, Pakistan. There have been mixed reactions on his visit.
While it was hailed by his own party, there was stinging criticism in India by the opposition. In Pakistan almost all parties were united in their stand and termed the visit as a good will gesture.
The question is how much of a difference will this visit make to the relations between India and Pakistan?
Both countries have indicated that they want peace and for this to become a reality "not talking," is not the solution.
There has to be dialogue regularly between the two countries, but one must also bear in mind that Pakistan cannot be trusted blindly.
Goodwill is good, but issues need to be resolved:
For India a major concern has been the trial of the 26/11 attack. The trial being held in Pakistan has not made any real progress and the fact is that the two masterminds, Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi continue to walk around scot free. Real justice will be delivered when these two are convicted.
India however says that Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharrif has assured Modi that the trial would be taken to its logical conclusion. While that assurance is consoling, let us be clear about one fact and that is Hafiz Saeed will never be brought to justice in Pakistan and India knows this well. Saeed is a strategic asset for Pakistan who fans sentiments in Kashmir.
For India, the 26/11 trial and violations along the border are matters of prime concern. However for Pakistan it is the Kashmir issue that matters the most.
It may be recalled the talks between the National Security Advisors of both countries to be held in Delhi a few months back were cancelled over this issue. Pakistan wanted to engage with the Hurriyat and India was opposed to the idea.
The talks between the two NSA's did take place in Bangkok last month, but where the Hurriyat is concerned nothing has changed. India does not want the separatists to be involved in the talks in Kashmir.
However, Pakistan has clearly indicated that they will not change their stand and will continue to see the separatists as the real representatives of Kashmiris.
Need to think out of the box:
Experts on foreign affairs say that there is no point in eyeball to eyeball confrontation. India and Pakistan have to talk and do so regularly. There is no point in taking a defiant stance on such issues.
At times impromptu meets such as the one in Paris and Lahore do help in ironing out differences. The meeting between the two Prime Ministers at Paris briefly led to the resumption of dialogue and the two NSA's met soon after that.
The meeting at Lahore may have not gone deep into major issues, but it has led to a date for the foreign secretary level talks between the two countries being fixed. Out of 10 issues that persist, if such meets manage to sort out at least 2 then it is a good start, experts state.