It wasn't long before that Indian and Pakistan went into a hostile engagement and we saw not just bitter verbal exchanges, but even the exchange of fire along the lines demarcating the territories of the two countries. This unfortunate development happened just after that inaugural ceremony when Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister. Both the countries hardened their stances and it seemed unlikely that the situation can change very soon. But now the lines of diplomatic engagement seems to have opened again. It is a welcome change. In fact when the Indo-Pak relations took a hostile turn it was emphasized by many that there is no other option for the two countries than to talk and smoothen the rough edges in their relationships by wise diplomacy, rather than harsh rhetoric. Now that PM Modi has decided to send the foreign secretary to Pakistan, one can hope that it's the beginning of a prolonged engagement. What comes out of this engagement is surely to be seen, but there are certain things that people concerned will keenly watch. Does this fresh round of engagement mean taking further the peace process that has now come to a grinding halt? Does it mean that there is a realization that the imperatives of the regional and the global politics are acting as catalysts in this change of policy? And will there be some long term understanding between the two countries to upgrade the diplomatic engagement? Till now what we have seen is that every phase of bonhomie is followed by an interregnum of hostility, and then the times of harmony again visit, and sometime after the two countries again lock horns. This cyclical pattern has now become so easily predictable. And it is here that the two countries and their political leadership have to show an extra dose of courage and wisdom to break this cycle. If the engagement is long term, uninterrupted, and goal oriented, we can at least expect a healthy political atmosphere in the region.