With Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the ruling and a coalition government set in place, Islamabad and New Delhi have been working towards activating backdoor channels for talks to revive the stalled relationship between the nuclear-powered neighbours.
The development is being seen as a major step with an intent to push forward the relationship between India and Pakistan towards normalcy through bilateral engagements, talks, and addressing each other concerns to find a mutual ground of understanding.
Relations between the two countries have remained strained for years now and took a turn for the worse in August 2019 when India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
In response, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties and suspended bilateral trade, and insisted that until India reverses its decision, there can be no talks on any issue between the two countries.
"Even before the government of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif took charge, the two countries were talking to each other, albeit quietly," said an informed source. "Those contacts have led to the renewal of the ceasefire understanding in February 2021 and since then the truce is holding, with no major incident of ceasefire violation." While the ceasefire agreement gave hopes of a forward movement toward more engagements on a bilateral level between the two countries, it did not yield any positive results of openings during the tenure of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
However, under the new government set up in Pakistan, there are renewed efforts by the two sides to explore ways and means to de-escalate tensions and revive the stalled relations.
"Call it backchannels, Track-II, or behind-the-scene talks, I can only confirm that relevant people in both countries are in touch with each other," another official source said
It should be noted that immediate results of these back-channel engagements are unlikely as both sides have put forward tough preconditions for the resumption of dialogue, the source added.
“Pakistan's policy is clear. We want to engage with everyone, including India. However, Narendra Modi's hard-line government may not show flexibility on the issue of Kashmir.
"India is inclined to the re-engagement but reluctant to offer something that would help Pakistan resume the dialogue," the source added. The source also revealed that Western countries, including the US and UK, who he said are trying to open some formal channels of communications, are also facilitating the backdoor channels of engagement between India and Pakistan.
"India is eager to first resume trade and then other ties with Pakistan. New Delhi is willing to meet the wheat shortage of Pakistan by entering into a government-to-government agreement."