India, Pakistan make placatory noises to improve strained ties

After protracted posturing and sharp rhetoric, India and Pakistan are now making placatory noises saying they want to improve and normalize their bilateral relations. New Delhi, however, put the onus on Islamabad, indicating that any marked improvement in the accident-prone bilateral ties can happen only after the latter delivers on its promise of curbing anti-India terror.

Speaking at a think tank in New York, India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley underscored that India wanted to improve or at least normalise its relations with its neighbour, but made it clear that the onus was on Islamabad.

“The message that we are interested in normalising our relationship with them or at least improving our relationship with them and the onus is on Pakistan for this purpose has been loud and clear,” he said at the New York-based think-tank Council on Foreign Relations.

In Islamabad, Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said that normalising relations with India was the key to promoting peace and development in the region. He stressed that disputes and issues between the nuclear-armed neighbors needed to be resolved through dialogue.

“Pakistan, therefore, will welcome any proposal from India that will help promote peace in the region and improve bilateral relations,” Mr Khalilullah said.

The message coming out from latest statements is that India and Pakistan seem to be ready to deescalate tensions after weeks of belligerent rhetoric. In this context, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s telephonic conversation with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif has helped ease the atmosphere, fuelling speculation about a possible meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the SCO summit in the Russian city of Ufa next month.