Islamabad, Dec 29: Indo-Pak ties nosedived in 2014, as the deadly border clashes, cancellation of talks and a war of words dashed hopes of any headway towards peace even as Pakistan witnessed a series of terror attacks, the most brutal being the massacre at an army-run school in Peshawar this month.
In a goodwill gesture that took many by surprise, Modi invited SAARC leaders, including Sharif, for his swearing-in ceremony as the Prime Minister in May this year. The Modi-Sharif meeting in New Delhi was the high point of bilateral ties this year as they asked their officials to plough the ground for peace. Following up on the meeting, the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries were scheduled to meet in August in Islamabad. But just before the meeting, India cancelled the talks after Pakistan's envoy in India Abdul Basit met Kashmiri separatists ahead of the dialogue.
The UN General Assembly's annual meeting in New York often provides a good neutral venue for the leaders of two countries to meet but the bitterness over the cancellation of Foreign Secretary-level talks dashed hopes of a rapprochement. Sharif, in his speech at the UNGA, asked the UN to play a role in resolving the Kashmir dispute while Prime Minister Modi in his address asked Pakistan to stop terrorism, as the verbal duel soured ties.
A window of opportunity for revival of talks came in November when both Modi and Sharif visited Nepal to attend the regional SAARC summit. But the summit did little to better ties as the first day saw cold vibes being shared between the two leaders. The only glimmer of hope at the summit came at the end when the two leaders shared a warm handshake and exchanged smiles.
However, the pleasantries failed to break the deadlock over talks with both countries maintaining that they are willing to engage in a meaningful dialogue provided the other side takes the initiative.