Will Delhi and Islamabad be able to agree on the various components of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue in 2016 and resume talks, or will they spend most of the year talking about talks?
Despite rivalries that have become systemic, South Asia’s two nuclear neighbours could best serve their nations by seizing 2016 as the year to craft a new normal.
In the best case scenario, Delhi and Islamabad will begin a process of unbundling the low hanging fruit of items in the dialogue menu while talking about the big ticket items. The trust deficit bogging all progress may get a shot in the arm, if issues like Sir Creek and Wullar Barrage kick off early successes and set the tone for a sustained process.
Trade pathways and the trial of the Mumbai terrorist episode will dominate Delhi’s list of priorities, while Pakistan would seek a larger framework of strategic and core policy interventions.
In all cases, terrorism will require movement from both sides, as will an honest conversation on Kashmir that includes the Kashmiris. In the worst case scenario, spectacular attacks by terrorists in no one’s control could derail this process.
On balance, though, minus any black swan events, 2016 can change the game.
Senator Sherry Rehman is Chair of the Jinnah Institute, and Vice President of the PPP; she has served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, and Federal Minister of Information. @sherryrehman
This was originally published in Dawn on 01/01/2016.