With the return of the Indian pilot so soon after his capture—a gesture by Pakistan that was prudent, timely and diplomatic, and for which the Pakistani PM deserves credit—the heightened state of tension between the two countries has begun to de-escalate, for the time being at least.
We firmly believe that the leaderships in New Delhi and Islamabad are fully aware that an outbreak of a large-scale war between the two countries would be counterproductive and would help only aggravate the situation rather than solve the outstanding issues. And that is the reason that both chose to climb down from their high horse.
Now that the immediate spectre of war has been averted, we earnestly hope that the two longstanding antagonists would stop using the current situation for political dividends at home, and instead engage in serious dialogues to resolve the underlying issues which have generated the heat and festered a problem that has resisted resolution for the last 72 years.
Pakistan must stop sheltering terrorists inside its territory. Indirect war may be a cheaper alternative for a country, an inexpensive expedient to bring to bear pressure on an adversary, but it can boomerang badly. Pakistan should follow up seriously with its peace gesture by starting to take tangible measures to tackle terrorism, and India should take PM Imran Khan at his word that Pakistan is willing to work with its neighbour to confront the menace of terrorism. India on its part needs to address the Kashmir situation to the satisfaction of the people of Kashmir. Undeniably, India's policy over the years has, in part, engendered the violence that Kashmir is witnessing. And that is what must be addressed immediately.
No conflict in the region between the two nuclear-armed countries can be quarantined within their respective territories, and that is why, for South Asia, the stake in peace is so very high.