India’s Neighborhood Watch

In the South Asian subcontinent, crammed as it is with deeply troubled countries, India’s role in promoting stability and prosperity is essential. But is India capable of fulfilling that agenda?

NEW DELHI – Like monsoon flurries, recent events in the Indian subcontinent have sent conflicting signals. Has Indian diplomacy finally awakened after its long summer siesta, or is this just an illusion?

In late July, after lower-level ministerial officials from India and Pakistan had prepared the ground for their respective foreign ministers to meet, the two finally did so, in New Delhi, on July 26 and 27. This was remarkable in itself, given the bomb blasts just a fortnight earlier in Mumbai – a terrorist attack that claimed 26 lives and left 130 people injured. Even more remarkably, given many Indians’ suspicions that that the attack was, in some way, authored in Pakistan, there were no mutually accusatory diplomatic blasts.

Instead, the two foreign ministers met on schedule and agreed to meet again, after issuing an encouragingly meaningful joint statement, which spoke of enhancing trade and implementing more confidence-building measures. For other neighboring countries, that may sound humdrum; for India and Pakistan, merely maintaining a structure for dialogue counts as notable progress.

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