Feasting, bickering and philosophising: Way to go for India-Pakistan relations!

Feasting, bickering and rhetorical fireworks. It was a conflicted see-saw day for the prickly relations between India and Pakistan as the Pakistan high commission rolled out a moveable feast for at least 3,000 Indian guests on its National Day in New Delhi even as New Delhi sharply reminded Islamabad that there is no place for third party (Kashmiri separatists) in the dialogue process.

March 23, 2015 – it was just another day in the subcontinent bidding adieu to winter and bracing for the long blistering summer ahead, but it telescoped multiple contradictions in the tangled India-Pakistan relations.

What does all this symbolism, rhetoric and below-the-belt barbs mean for India-Pakistan relations and the prospects of the dialogue process? The messaging is confused, but still one can isolate some strands: one, for all the occasional bickering and reiteration of well-known positions, the leadership in New Delhi and Islamabad are increasingly realising that there is no option but to talk and re-engage. There is also a healthy dose of pragmatism, a sobering realisation that bickering between the governments will not prevent bonding and feasting on people-to-people level. If nothing works, they can always bank on the robust appetite of people on both sides of the divide for good food: the rich spread of biryani, chicken tikka and kakori kabab…

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