The initial signs of a thaw?
During the last two years and a half there has be a constant deterioration in Pak-India relations. The period is marked by the Pathankot terrorist attack in January 2016, arrest of Kulbhushan Jadhav in March the same year for spying and involvement in terrorist activities, and the Uri attack by militants in September 2016 followed by Indian claims of a surgical strike on this side of the LoC, which was vehemently denied by Pakistan. Soon after Uri India boycotted the SAARC summit making the organisation dysfunctional. Firing and rocket attacks across the LoC intensified after June 2017 and climaxed during the nearly five months of the current year. In March there was a serious diplomatic standoff between the two countries that led Pakistan to boycott the WTO meeting in India.
Coming as it does in the midst of a steady drum beat of bad news, the arrival of the Indian delegation to attend the three day SCO–Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure moot hosted by Islamabad is the first breath of fresh air after a long and humid summer. Finally, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has brought the two neighbours to the negotiating table. During the moot, the legal experts from eight member countries will discuss terrorist threats being faced by the region and ways and means to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation between the SCO states.
In September, Pakistan and India are to participate in joint counter-terror military drills in the Ural mountains of Russia under the rubric of SCO. The aim of the exercise is to enhance counter-terror cooperation among the SCO member countries. The interaction though limited could help build a modicum of trust that is currently in deficit. The positivities in Pak-India relations are of an incremental nature. But even baby steps of the sort should be welcomed as these can be precursors to more meaningful moves towards the improvement of ties without which the two countries cannot hope to improve the livelihhood of millions of people currently living below poverty line. Only after elections have been held in both Pakistan and India can one expect bolder moves towards improvement of relations.