Our policy towards Pakistan has been marked by flip-flops and lack of coherence because an adequate answer to the complex and enduring challenges that we face from that country has evaded us so far. We have repeatedly reached out to Pakistan in the hope that in its own interest it will see the wisdom of ending its confrontation with India, and we have not been deterred from doing so even when our expectations have been repeatedly belied. Like a gambler we keep placing bets, keep losing, but keep hoping we might win one day.
We are again reaching out to Pakistan, with the prime minister, Narendra Modi, speaking to his counterpart in Pakistan and deciding to send the foreign secretary to Islamabad. The cloak of SAARC and cricket has been given to this initiative, so that it is not too glaring that we are reversing course and resuming foreign-secretary-level talks with Pakistan that we called off in August, 2014, because Pakistan's high commissioner in Delhi met the Hurriyat leaders first.
Of course, if Pakistan had sent us encouraging signals in the intervening months, we would be right in re-connecting with it. Permanent tensions with Pakistan are not in our interest. But we cannot normalize relations unilaterally; Pakistan must want that too, and this should be visible in its actions and not in mere affirmations of peace meant for diplomatic consumption, especially in the West.
In actual fact, Pakistan has not changed its hostile attitude towards India. Nawaz Sharif has been notably aggressive over Kashmir by repeatedly invoking the United Nations resolutions and self-determination, and calling it - very recently again - the "jugular vein" of Pakistan. If so, then it is a territorial, life-and-death issue for Pakistan, not one of "self-determination", as it spuriously claims. He constantly seeks third-party intervention in Jammu and Kashmir, contrary to the Simla Agreement, which he studiously ignores in his references to past India-Pakistan accords. He sees no contradiction in his supposed commitment to peace with India while seeking a solution to Kashmir at India's expense.