Dear Mr Imran Khan, The India-Pakistan relations are now at an all time low. Both countries lack the gravitas to engage with one another and to find solutions to end the disputes left by historical legacy. It is true that the relations are so complex that they do not offer any immediate solution. It may take years of sustained talks to remove the cobwebs of hostility that have been allowed to be accumulated since partition. Yet, both the countries should not lose sight of the fact that we are neighbours and such hostility does a great disservice to the people of both the countries. As the former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, referring to the state of India-Pakistan relations, famously said that “you can change your friends, but not your neighbours.” We, in India, were very happy when your party was elected to form the government and you became the prime minister of the country. It is to your credit that your sustained fight for over 21 years for providing an alternative government free of corruption that finally bore fruit. It was your grit, determination and the never say die attitude that put you to the exalted position. Perhaps, your leadership skills honed from your cricketing days have come handy in taking on the establishment. Your predecessors have left the economy in shambles. You have a very difficult task ahead of you but we are confident that you will manage to rescue the economy which is teetering on the brink of collapse. Your rants against India during the elections received bad publicity in the Indian media. However, in a commendable act of statesmanship, the first thing you did, after assuming the office of the Prime Minister, was to extend your hand of friendship to India. We initially felt that this was another gimmick to gain political mileage. But, your decision to open the Kartarpur corridor to facilitate the Sikhs in India to visit the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Guru Nanak, generated a lot of goodwill not only among the Sikhs but also in a vast section of Hindus. We felt that here was a man who was willing to stick his neck out to improve the moribund relations with his neighbour. Another interesting development was the backing you received from the COAS of Pakistan for improving your relations with India. This was a momentous development, as India had always been wary of the Pakistan army in improving ties with India. One felt that such an opportunity would not come again and that India should seize the opportunity by both hands in reciprocating your gesture. The fact that the Pakistan army backed your proposal goes to show that you have their full backing in your effort to mend the ties with India. Prior to your assuming the office, your predecessors had also reciprocated India’s efforts to improve ties. The historical ‘Lahore accord’, signed by the former Indian Prime Minister, Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif led to an agreement where both agreed to settle all outstanding issues through dialogue. Sadly, before the ink could dry, the then former army chief of staff, Pervez Musharraf stealthily captured the Tiger Hill in the Drass-Kargil sector, before India managed to repulse the attack and recapture the hill. Hundreds of soldiers became victims of the ill conceived misadventure of the General. What did he gain? India not only recaptured the Tiger Hill but at a great cost of human lives due to the foolhardy decision of the former General. As a first step, India and Pakistan should create a climate of trust, as no settlement is possible in a hostile atmosphere. This can be done through people to people contact and resumption of sporting ties, especially in Hockey and Cricket Similarly, when the present Indian Prime Minister made an impromptu stopover in Lahore in December 2015 to meet his counterpart Nawaz Sharif in an attempt to mend the ties, it was hailed by both the countries. Unfortunately, forces inimical to better ties conspired by launching a terrorist attack in an army camp in Uri, where four terrorists, who had sneaked from across the border managed to kill 18 soldiers. The list is endless. The worst attack has so far been the infamous Mumbai attack where over 209 civilians were killed, including foreigners. This caused irreparable damage to the already fragile relations between the two countries. Both Pakistan and India should take a leaf from the India-China relations. Both the countries have decided to continue their negotiations to find acceptable solutions to the settle the border disputes and not let the dispute hijack any effort to improve the ties. We are now witnessing growing trade between the countries. There is also a convergence of opinion on terrorism and other issues that affect the interests of countries in South and Southeast Asia. The Doklam incident, which could have triggered another conflict was averted by the leadership of both the countries. Here are some ways for both India and Pakistan to go forward; as a first step, India and Pakistan should create a climate of trust, as no settlement is possible in a hostile atmosphere. This can be done through people to people contacts and resumption of sporting ties, especially Hockey and Cricket. Both the countries should allow their artists to visit each other. For this it is essential that both the countries ease their visa policy. Both the countries should cooperate and work assiduously to eliminate the scourge of terrorism. This can be done through information sharing. The state policy of encouraging various terror outfits has done considerable damage to Pakistan as we have seen how the some of the outfits have turned their guns on Pakistan. Pakistan, today, is a victim of terrorism. Both India and Pakistan should persist with Track 11 back channel diplomacy in spite of setbacks. In this regard, India should not be shy in opening its communication with the army. Without the ‘buy in” of the army, it will always be a classic case of taking ‘one step forward, and two steps back’. Imran, as a first step you should reciprocate India’s gesture by according the ‘most favoured nation’ to India. This will give a tremendous boost to trade between both the countries. According to a report by the World Bank, India — Pakistan trade has a potential of 37 billion dollars. The trade can serve as an engine of prosperity for the people of both the countries. In sum, the leaders of both India and Pakistan should make an all out effort to end the hostility by exploring ways to create a climate of trust. The youth of both the countries want peace as they have no hangover of the partition. Both the countries should ensure that it should not allow vested interests to sabotage the ties. All is required from both sides is the political will to settle the disputes. India also should stop viewing Pakistan from the prism of suspicion. It should show magnanimity to forget the past and make efforts to resume the stalled talks. Both India and Pakistan have today decisive leaders who are capable of taking hard decisions to find mutually acceptable solutions. It is time that we put an end the hostility and usher a future that can bring prosperity to the people of both the countries. Let us give peace one more chance. Yours truly, The writer is a freelance contributor. He writes for several papers like The Diplomat, Hindu, Global Times, Japan times and HuffPost Published in Daily Times, December 12th 2018.