New Delhi: Pakistan’s narrative towards India has changed from hostility to talk of “detente”. Detente is a Cold War term of the late 1960s and is related to the easing of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. Sartaj Aziz, who advises the Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharief, on foreign policy, used “detente” in the context of reviving the frozen ties between India and Pakistan. He said he would employ his visit to India for the “Heart of Asia” conference to “defuse the tension” between the two countries. Aziz should be expected to know the lexicon of international politics rather thoroughly. By the use of “detente”, he has sought to portray India-Pakistan differences as a sort of second Cold War nuclear rivalry which it most certainly is not. Pakistan is a terrorist state. It employs terrorism as state policy against India. Its state policy is to bleed India with a thousand cuts. Unless Pakistan reverses this policy entirely and verifiably which appears impossible, India cannot be expected to be ready for peace talks. Sartaj Aziz should have no expectations from his visit to India and it might even be a little premature in the circumstances.

The election of Donald Trump has deeply agitated Pakistan. While this writer would be hesitant to foresee Trump’s disposition and policy towards Pakistan, they do not promise to be, on the strength of present evidence at least, very friendly. Trump is also in a position to throw Pakistan’s alliances in disarray. If he moves closer to Russia as predicted, Russia might feel compelled to put distance with China out of deference to Trump. In its resultant insecurity, China may feel stressed to consolidate its Asia-Pacific interests causing Pakistan to be neglected. Since Trump and Vladimir Putin will most likely come together to combat Islamist terrorism worldwide, Pakistan could expect its incipient relationship with Russia to wither on the vine. All these factors have conceivably prompted Sartaj Aziz to speak of peace with India.

On the other hand, the gesture may be PR aimed at convincing the incoming Trump administration that Pakistan is a peaceable nation. Indian strategic commentators are surprised that Pakistan admitted to the fatalities of seven Pakistani Rangers in cross-border firing. It has never owned up to such deaths before and it still denies the surgical strikes. So what explains this sudden change of tactic? It seems all cued to impress Donald Trump that Pakistan is the victim of Indian “aggression” and that Trump’s mediation on Kashmir would be heartily welcome. Aziz has even spoken of that. Finally, there are the Pakistani military exercises on the border which are getting underway. They would tie with Pakistan’s Indian “aggression” line and may aim at getting the US involved in the region in a bigger way than at present.

There is a substantial regional dimension as well. The unrest in Kashmir which was fuelled by Pakistani financing and counterfeits has suddenly died with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to scrap the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes. For reasons besides demonetization as well, the troubles in the Valley are receding. With no means left to negatively influence the Valley, Pakistan appears desperate to revive the Kashmir issue on the diplomatic table. Its state policy of terrorism against India has also reached a dead end for the moment with the surgical strikes. Pakistan realizes that an Indian response to a Pakistani terrorist act has become terribly unpredictable and wholly disproportionate under Narendra Modi.

Pakistan will do its utmost to influence the incoming Donald Trump administration against India, even while professing peace with its eastern neighbour. It will not be the first time that Pakistan talks out of both sides of its mouth. Indian public opinion will not countenance any easing of relations with Pakistan till its terror infrastructure remains intact. India is well within its sovereign right to adopt any means to address concerns flowing out of Pakistani terrorism. What those means constitute has been addressed before and need no repetition.

Pakistan cannot be trusted any longer.

Editor’s Note: President Barack Obama has done splendidly to make the United States’ transition to the Donald Trump administration next year both pleasant and hopeful. He has provided a healing touch to a most bitter election campaign and proved himself entirely worthy of the office he has held for eight years. This is democracy in glorious action. The opposition in India could draw lessons from this and cease their inglorious and corrupt agitation against the Prime Minister’s demonetization programme. Only Nitish Kumar has risen to the occasion, and he has proved by unreservedly supporting demonetization that he is the solitary regional political leader who is clean. The mainstream media, on the other hand, has mostly run with the looters. No surprises, here.