Pakistan’s greatest advantage over India is, surely, the excited confusion that dealing with it provokes among us. Before attacks against our exploring talks with Pakistan could fade, we’ve started tilting at another imagined windmill—that we have shattered our tradition of bilateralism by invoking Saudi involvement. Of course, we can argue about India’s strategies and tactics regarding this troublesome neighbour, but between the petty confrontationalism of our domestic politics and our baffling refusal to face facts, there is no attempt at a solid national consensus that this crucial relationship requires.
Though reputed for hair-splitting skills, we somehow ignore important distinctions. Nobody has asked Saudi Arabia to help us solve Indo-Pak problems. To convey our concern over Pakistan’s prevarications on terrorism to Saudi Arabia (adding that its good offices in getting Pakistan to cooperate would be welcome) accords with standard diplomacy and is perfectly consistent with our basic stand that solutions must be worked out directly by India and Pakistan. Certainly, the Saudis would be more than messengers, their closeness to Pakistan gives them influence. (But to fear this submits us to unacceptable pressures, and is to suppose that we would submit.)