Washington: Noting that resumption of talks between India and Pakistan does not mean that the two sides are close to any breakthrough, a former Bush-era official has warned that the two neighbours might go to war again if there was any major terrorist attack in India emanating from Pakistan.
"Yes (India and Pakistan can go to war again). After Mumbai attacks, the Indian government came under enormous pressure to respond. Another attack could increase the pressure further," Evan A Feigenbaum, who served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia during the Bush Administration.
Feigenbaum, who is currently, senior fellow for East, Central and South Asia, in a blog posted on the Council on Foreign Relations, said India has carefully avoided blaming Pakistan for attacks two weeks ago in Pune, but political pressure will intensify in the event of a future attack.
"Indians are divided over the effectiveness of military options. Some argue that tough military measures contributed to subsequent breakthroughs in the backchannel negotiations. Others disagree," he said.
Feigenbaum said the February 25 talks between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries is no mean achievement that New Delhi and Islamabad returned to the table.
"But today`s discussion was about restoring contact, not making a breakthrough," he said.
Noting that the US is unlikely to have any role in bring peace between the two South Asian neighbours, he said clearly, American interests are engaged by the possibility of war--and tension reduction is in the US interest.
"But third-party intervention is utterly unwelcome in India. It hasn`t been especially conducive to breakthroughs in the past. Pakistan would certainly welcome greater US involvement, but India would reject an American role outright," he said.
"And a public US role narrows the political space available for Singh to manoeuvre: Any peace package seen to have been reached under US pressure would be dead on arrival in Indian politics. Barack Obama learned this lesson the hard way. As a candidate, he told TIME`s Joe Klein that he would appoint a US envoy to seek peace in Kashmir.
"As president, he quickly backed off after strenuous Indian objections. But some in his administration cling to the idea," Feigenbaum said.