Islamabad: Pakistan-India relationship appears to be inching forward, said an influential Pakistani daily which noted that the Pathankot terror attack is "an early and serious test of the intentions of both the Pakistani and Indian establishments".
An editorial "Pathankot steps" in the Dawn on Tuesday said that after weeks of relative inactivity, at least on the public front, the Pakistan-India relationship appears to be inching forward.
"The registration of an FIR in Pakistan appears to have paved the way for a series of next steps.
"The first of those steps is likely to be a trip by Pakistani investigators to India to gather evidence on the basis of which collaborators and architects of the Pathankot air base attack may be formally charged," said the daily.
It added that though the sequence of steps has not yet been publicly revealed, or perhaps even decided, there will be several major opportunities for bilateral dialogue in March: "First, between the foreign secretaries at a Saarc conference in Nepal mid-March; next, between foreign adviser Sartaj Aziz and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at a ministerial gathering to conclude the Saarc conference in Nepal; and finally between prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi at a nuclear summit in Washington, D.C. that both leaders are scheduled to attend."
The editorial observed that as the flurry of high-level diplomacy late last year demonstrated that "bilateral dialogue can quickly and meaningfully be restarted if the political will exists and dialogue is backed by the relevant institutions on both sides of the border".
"The Pathankot attack is an early and serious test of the intentions of both the Pakistani and Indian establishments."
It went on to say that thus far, the Pakistani officials have for the most part said the right things and demonstrated a refreshing candidness about the role that Pakistani organisations and citizens may have had in planning and executing the attack in Pathankot.
"While not officially confirmed as yet, there has been no attempt here to downplay the Jaish-e-Mohammed role that India has alleged in the Pathankot attack.
"Perhaps then India should heed the suggestion of Pakistani officials such as Sartaj Aziz that the resumption of dialogue and the Pathankot investigation can proceed simultaneously."
The editorial said that for reasons of both security and prosperity, the governments of India and Pakistan owe it to their people to restart and sustain a bilateral dialogue.