On Monday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj briefed the Lok Sabha on her recent visit to Pakistan. The Minister defended the Centre’s decision to resume the composite dialogue process. Suffice to say, it was a feisty defense. She also took on many in social media, who had cast aspersions on her decision to wear a green sari and speak in Urdu during a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. In response to the criticism of her green sari, she said, “I wear green saris every Wednesday, and that Wednesday also I wore a green sari”. As for the language, she said, “Urdu is not just their tradition, it belongs to my country too”. Her responses should be enough to shut up those holier-than-thou digital Indians, who constantly present a hawkish view of India’s policy to Pakistan. Coming back to the question of policy, it is heartening to see that both sides have once again come to the negotiating table. Swaraj’s visit saw the announcement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Pakistan. It will be the first visit by an Indian head of state to Pakistan in 12 years.
On the sidelines of the “Heart of Asia” conference in Islamabad, Swaraj had met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, laying the groundwork for Modi’s visit to Islamabad later next year. If normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan is on the agenda, it is imperative to ask what’s changed in the past year. We are now going to resume talks with Pakistan when the objective conditions have hardly changed. Firing across the Line of Control continues unabated. The Pakistani intelligence establishment continues to fund militant groups. Moreover, counterfeit currency continues to make its way from across the border. Some would argue that both sides have treated peace talks as an end in itself. However, the fact that both sides are now on the negotiating table is encouraging in itself after the brief standoff. There is no other way to resolve the conflict. However, it is imperative that both India and Pakistan resume the composite dialogue process with concrete aims and objectives.