Waking up to a rainy London morning sometimes makes me feel oddly content. Looking out into the grey sky with a big mug of tea I feel at peace and totally incapable of any verbal communication. If I have to talk now I feel I will have to summon all my energy to string words together into a coherent sentence. I also feel glad that I am not in the Indian foreign service and so I don’t have to be ready to talk to Pakistan any time even though I don’t really want to.

I have been following Indo-Pak relations more closely since the past 15 years and I am tired of this snakes and ladders game. Both sides can climb many ladders and all it needs is one snake to bring everyone down to the beginning. It is a game which never ends and it keeps a lot of people in India – Pak and around the world in jobs. It provides Bollywood producers with ready made scripts, newspaper editors with ready made editorials, useless peaceniks get a lot of attention that they wouldn’t get otherwise, petty criminals turned jihadis and right wingers in India get another reason to exist, arms manufacturers a ready made market and armchair bloggers like me their first lesson in realpolitik.

So when I heard of the Feb 25 announcement my first reaction was that it is a good thing. It is one step forward and if either sides would have a reason to withdraw then atleast they can stop talking. If the sides are not talking then withdrawing further usually means diplomatic action or even war. So from a basic survival, nuclear war prevention, perspective this is good. But that is like the social development equivalent of the poverty line and that is not enough. How do India and Pakistan break this consciously built up hate and distrust of 60 years. How do you unpick the deliberately picked fights and confrontations of these years. How does India learn to trust Pakistan and how does Pakistan trust that India is not interested in another division of Pakistan. Have no illusions that these divisions are really strong and well entrenched. How else do you keep away two groups of people who have a shared history, culture, language and family links so apart for all this time? We constantly talk of a world of open communication, of collaboration, of networking and yet nothing seems to impact this division. Pakistan still unites India like nothing else  and vice-versa.

The difference this time is that the characters are different on both sides and they both seem keen to come some sort of a resolution. In Manmohan Singh and his foreign secretary (Nirupama Rao) I see a good tag team. I ignore SM Krishna because I don’t take people who wear wigs seriously ! Manmohan is an out of the box politician who because of the fact that he doesn’t have a political constituency is capable of pretty much anything. In Pakistan, Yusuf Gilani seems to be the empowered Prime Minister and the army chief is much more pragmatic than Musharraf. There seems to be realisation on both sides that this can’t go on forever. The only thing which is missing is a neutral referee but I dont think India will ever agree to it and you could argue that there is no such thing as a neutral referee in international politics.

And so we talk again.