New Delhi: Pakistan desires to resume peace talks with India. But India understandably wants a prior manifest and verifiable end to Pakistani terrorism against this country and the expeditious trial and conviction of Pakistani terrorists involved in the 2008 Bombay attacks. What explains the Pakistani change of heart, and why is it that it cannot see that the ball really lies in its court?

Two Pakistani dignitaries have recently spoken of peace. The first is the Pakistan Prime Minister’s advisor on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, who, in a manner of speaking, invited himself to the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar last week. Most of his visit did not go well. But his attendance did convey that isolation from the rest of South Asia was hurting Pakistan.

The second Pakistani dignitary to speak rather more expansively on the subject of India-Pakistan peace has been Pakistan’s high commissioner to India, Abdul Basit. Basit was quoted in the media as saying, “I think we have wasted 70 years of our existence. Time has now come to make up our mind on what we want: Whether we would like to continue with the status quo or we want to make a new beginning in our ties.”

Basit went on to say that “Pakistan does not wish to live in perpetual hostility with India. We remain positive and constructive but it takes two to tango. There are serious problems between the two countries. We cannot shy away from them. We can engage in purposeful diplomacy (and) we can realize results for mutual satisfaction and make a good beginning.”

Basit and Aziz do not, of course, speak for themselves. They reflect the present sentiment and order of play in the Pakistani establishment. Some weeks ago, Aziz and Basit both breathed fire against India. Still earlier, Basit rather overdid the hard line, speaking as though for the Pakistani military establishment than the elected government of Nawaz Sharief. The military establishment was then led by the anti-India hawk and the inspirer of the Uri and Nagrota attacks, Raheel Sharief. Raheel Sharief’s successor as army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, is considered a “moderate” in comparison, and something of an India-watcher. Has the change of army leadership substantially contributed to Aziz and Basit’s amended tone and tenor towards India? This writer cannot answer that. The Pakistani media would be in a better position to do so.

There is one other possibility. The United States’ President-elect, Donald Trump, has been spewing venom against China. These turn out to be considered communications and not off-the-cuff rants. Even before he has assumed the presidential office, Trump has singled out China for adverse engagement. Trump has hit China in its three most sensitive spots: its economy now threatened by capital flight, Taiwan, and its illegal militarization of the South China Sea. With China likely to be bruised and even gravely wounded by the imminent American onslaught, does Pakistan fear the effectiveness and durability of the “all-weather” alliance with China? Is it, therefore, hedging its bets by seeking to lower the temperature with India? Is it also fearful of Trump for Pakistan’s past deceptions of the United States in Afghanistan? Answers to some of these questions may never come, but they are worth raising all the same.

But the ball, as previously stated, lies in the Pakistani court. If Pakistan wants peace with India, it has to do the heavy lifting, and this goes beyond razing to the ground the terrorist infrastructure against India to the very fundamentals of the Pakistani state. The Pakistani state is anti-India because of the warped vision of the Pakistani establishment. While all constituents of the establishment have contributed to this state of affairs, the Pakistan army has been the most hysterically disposed against India. It has never reconciled to losing East Pakistan and wants to repeat the misery for India in Kashmir forgetting that it took a portion of it in a much earlier fighting in 1947-48. Armies are rancorous about lost wars, as the Indian Army is about 1962. China illegally holds Indian territory. It does not mean Indian and Chinese forces are engaged in artillery duels.

India and Pakistan had reached a settlement on India’s western border in Simla in 1972. Z. A. Bhutto had agreed to the conversion of the Line of Control into an international border. He felt the need to gain some sort of consensus in Pakistan before making it formal. In good faith, Indira Gandhi agreed. Bhutto made no attempt of consensus. Rather as though he had tricked Indira Gandhi, he promised to fight a long war. He vowed to eat grass and make nuclear weapons targeting India. Pakistan has its nukes. Pakistan has waged an open war in Kargil in 1999 and a covert war before it and after in Kashmir. The covert war continues. Has it brought Pakistan any near to its aims? Not in the least.

To the contrary, Pakistan has regressed. In its hatred for India, it embraced terrorism, and terrorism now threatens Pakistan’s very existence. Because of its state policy of terrorism, it is loathed around the world. China needs Pakistan to balance India but is nevertheless upset and angry with Pakistan’s support of Uighur terrorism: a leopard can hardly change its spots. Pakistan upped the ante after the neutralization of Burhan Wani. Its narrative appeared seductive till India shattered it with two countermeasures. To revenge the Uri attacks, India conducted surgical strikes inside Pakistani territory. Secondly, demonetization has destroyed terror funding in Kashmir. The Hurriyat is desperate for tourism because it is cash strapped for terrorism.

Pakistan has to alter the narrative if it genuinely wants peace with India. The old tactics of threats and nuclear blackmail will not work. General Qamar Javed Bajwa has his work cut out for him. If he really is a moderate and considers peace with India to be in the best interests of Pakistan, he must go about changing the mindset of the Pakistan general staff. Simultaneously, he must tackle the politicians. The politicians will follow the army line if there is consensus in the army for peace with India. Armies don’t like wars. Armies know better than other state institutions about the horrors of war. The great Wehrmacht would have deposed Adolf Hitler except that his easy early victories blinded the generals to the subsequent horrors when it was too late to do anything.

If Pakistan wants peace with India, the Pakistan army must lead the way. In that case, General Bajwa would know what to do. The most India can offer is the 1972 settlement, although even that would have to be wrung out. There can be no alteration of borders. The status quo on Kashmir will stay. Generations later, if and when the two countries have enjoyed settled peace, open borders might be contemplated. Not now. Is the Pakistan army ready for peace with India and to put the Kashmir question out of contention for ever? Sartaj Aziz and Abdul Basit would do better to turn their pleas homeward. The solution to peace with India lies with Pakistan.