With a new Prime Minister likely to be elected in Pakistan, there is an expectation that the stalled bilateral peace process would get a chance once again. Will Imran Khan and Narendra Modi pick up the bilateral pieces and give peace a chance? Or, will the bilateral process remain a prisoner of the past; yielding to hawkish positions across the border in both countries? There are three streams in India, as is the case in Pakistan, looking at the other side: the idealists, the pragmatists and the praetorians. For the idealists, peace with Pakistan is a part of a broader belief that New Delhi should pursue an accommodative approach with its entire ‘neighbourhood’. Appease the neighbours to achieve more substantial regional peace, so that South Asia can rise together. For them, Imran Khan or Nawaz Sharif- it does not matter. For the pragmatists, peace is an essential aspect of India’s security. A friendly neighbour would help India rise further and help them connect with extra-regional neighbours in Central Asia and Southeast Asia. Also, a friendly neighbourhood is a means towards a robust regional network assisting India’s economic growth. For the pragmatists, peace with the neighbours also would boost New Delhi to balance the growing Chinese influence in the region. For the pragmatists, Imran Khan is an opportunity. For the praetorians – from a (dominant) section of the Indian bureaucracy, military and the polity, nothing is likely to change in Pakistan’s decision-making process towards India. For them, the real power is with the Deep State in Pakistan, and the Prime Minister would have less leverage in charting a new path vis-à-vis Islamabad’s immediate neighbourhood – both towards India and Afghanistan. For the praetorians, Imran Khan is immaterial. The primary question from the praetorians in India would be: how much space would Imran Khan have in pursuing an India policy? Their cynicism comes from the past. What happened to the process that Nawaz Sharif initiated in the late 1990s? And what happened to the bold move by Modi to visit Nawaz Sharif in December 2015, while returning from Kabul to New Delhi? There was a military action in and around Kargil to scuttle the process in the 1990s, and a series of militant attacks in Punjab and J&K after Modi’s visit. The strong perception within this circle is that Pakistan’s Deep State is averse to the betterment of relations with India. Military action at Kargil scuttled the peace process in the nineties and a series of militant attacks in Punjab and J&K prevented Modi’s visit in 2015. This creates the strong perception that Pakistan’s Deep State is averse to the betterment of relations with its eastern neighbour The above perception is shared even amongst the pragmatists in India. However, the latter would still be willing to forge a working relationship with Pakistan’s polity to secure India’s larger regional interests, while the former will use it as an excuse to skip and bye-pass working with Pakistan. One question that unites both pragmatists and the praetorians is: if the Prime Minister and the Parliament do not wield real powers in Pakistan, then who should be approached to talk about regional peace? In the past India has used back-channels and even secret meetings to kick start a process; both could not be sustained. It is no coincidence that the significant achievements in the bilateral process came during Musharraf’s regime during 2004-08. What does this success imply? India and Pakistan will have to innovatively find a way to engage all the “State” stakeholders, if and when the process resumes. To conclude, in the Indo-Pak context, the idealists yearn for peace but do not have an active policy presence or power in the streets. The pragmatists have persuasive arguments, and may be able to provide policy options, but are not prevalent in the decision-making circles. The praetorians remain either the door-keepers of the policy-making or the instruments to break policy decisions. Outside the above three, there are also spoilers in both the countries, who do not want to see a successful peace process between India and Pakistan. While the spoilers in India primarily are from outside the “State”, the fear in India, especially amongst the praetorians is – in Pakistan, they are a part of the State, or/and have strong links with a section of the State. But how then should both countries kick-start the peace process once again? They could first start with resuming and even expanding cross-LoC interactions. The bus service and trade across J&K was one of the boldest and innovative processes started during the last decade, while the shared love for cricket could also be utilized in the peace process. Pettiness and lack of imagination harmed their progress. More could also be done to reunite families divided across the states, as well as the notable religious sites that people on both sides of the borders would like to visit. An example could be the Sikh pilgrim link with Nankana Sahib in Pakistan or Ajmer Sharif in India. Even though the above will have a limited effect, they will create a “peace momentum” that could either bulldoze the opposition or convince all stakeholders of its advantages. These small steps might one day coalesce in to a lasting peace between Pakistan and India. Prof D Suba Chandran is Dean of the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), IISc Campus, Bangalore, India Published in Daily Times, August 17th 2018.