Messaging behind Modi-Sharif handshake: Keep guessing!

It may have lasted for a minute. But in the end, it was the warm handshake between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif that will remain the most enduring image and the most tweeted photo of the 18th SAARC summit in Kathmandu.
The ringing applause that followed the handshake between the leaders of India and Pakistan and the beaming faces at the end of the Kathmandu summit on November 27 said it all. In the end, despite the official disclaimer that the SAARC is not about India and Pakistan, it was clear that the eight-nation regional grouping can only take off if that handshake translates into a meaningful dialogue between the two estranged neighbours of South Asia.

In a sense, the hype about the Modi-Sharif handshake, with television news channels hysterically speculating 24×7 about a possible meeting between the two leaders which did not happen, also ironically underlines diminishing expectations about the India-Pakistan relations that remain eternally enmeshed in mutual recriminations and the thick fog of suspicion.

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