Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has re-asserted his political position by engaging Pakistani leaders in a process aimed at resolving outstanding issues in a "step-by-step" incremental manner.
At a time when the UPA government is said to be grappling with issues ranging from economic policies to recalcitrant allies and corruption, Singh's aim is to send a strong message that he is still hands-on in the matters of foreign policy. Quite evidently, he wishes to make some tangible achievements before the next polls in 2014.
Singh has never minced words about his single-minded objective to break the ice with Pakistan, even though terror attacks and the latter's failure to bring the culprits to book have remained a huge setback.
As Singh himself put it this time, he has taken "advantage" of the private visit of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to the Ajmer shrine by inviting him over to Delhi for lunch, which resulted in a 40-minute one-on-one without major expectations. However, this could result in a possible paradigm shift.
Pakistan on Sunday was said to have agreed with India to adopt the "India-China model", which entails scaling up trade and business ties while negotiating sensitive issues.
The underlined message of the Prime Minister's engagement with Pakistan, in his own words, is "We are willing to find practical, pragmatic solutions to all issues". Therefore, officials said, Singh raised the demand for Pakistan acting strongly against LeT founder Hafiz Saeed upfront. Neither did he mince words while telling Zardari that action against terror was very important for the future of India-Pakistan relations.
Meanwhile, there is hope that when the home secretaries of India and Pakistan meet soon, they would reach a pact on a visa liberalisation agreement that will ease travel between the two countries.