More baby steps toward reconciliation for India and Pakistan: Today India’s top diplomat offered to talk to Islamabad about Kashmir, the most contentious issue between the two countries. Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told the WSJ that India “would be happy” to reopen talks on the disputed territory, which both countries claim in its entirety. Last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari visited India, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to make a trip to Islamabad soon. Talks on trade cooperation are also slowly progressing.
These are signs that the atmosphere in South Asia may be improving, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that the same intractable problems continue to block real progress. The only tangible step toward resolving border issues so far has been the countries’ alleged willingness to establish a national border in Sir Creek, a marshy area that separates Pakistani Sindh from Indian Gujarat—and this is really just the tiniest of steps.
We will continue to watch this story, because it could have enormous ramifications in South Asian geopolitics, as well as in Afghanistan.