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Well played!

Such meetings change the narrative of hostility between the two countries to one of engagement, only until the military—jihadi complex retaliates.

by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

While analysts like me were following up on what transpired during PM Modi’s Afghanistan visit, we found ourselves taken over by the pace of events. PM Modi sent the media in a tizzy through a tweet, announcing that he would be stopping over at Lahore on his way back to Delhi.

To temper expectations and to get a realistic check on this event, here are six points worth noting:

  1. The meeting was a well kept secret, and not a surprise visit as some would like to claim (and believe). Such meetings are well planned in advance. Probably this was decided during the NSA meeting in Bangkok. Credit to both Pakistan and India that they managed to keep the secrecy element intact.
  2. The fact that secrecy was maintained in Pakistan also means that the Pakistan Army would have been taken on board. Had this not been the case, a few media houses in Pakistan tightly regulated by the Army would have leaked the possibility of the meeting, causing both sides to reconsider.
  3. This meeting would certainly infuriate a few elements within the Pakistani army that handle the anti-India jihadi networks. They would be on the look out for a chance to drown this excitement surrounding the talks soon.
  4. One cannot expect anything tangible to result from this meeting. But it does change the narrative of hostility between the two countries to one of engagement, at least until the military—jihadi complex retaliates.
  5. US will consider this meeting as a big win for its foreign policy as it has been consistently asking both the States to resume talks at all levels. Pakistan will find its positions vis-a-vis the civil nuclear agreement and economic package from US bolstered. What will India get in return is not so clear.

Interesting times. A bold move. And well played by both sides.

Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotas




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