If the United States effectively uses its considerable residual leverage in Afghanistan, Pakistan does not try and turn Afghanistan into a weak protectorate, and the Taliban does not overreach inside Afghanistan, there is reason for optimism.
This volatile history of India-Pakistan engagement over the last decade makes the agreement on opening the Kartarpur corridor quite significant.
New Delhi’s messy relationship with Islamabad will continue to draw headlines in the Subcontinent at the expense of India’s other engagements at the UN.
Whatever might be the civilian rhetoric, Pakistan’s army leadership is quite conscious that making the United States an enemy and putting all the eggs in the China basket is not a smart strategy.
It is the nature of the negotiation between the United States and Pakistan—the most important external players in the Afghan conflict—that will determine the outcome.
If China returned to genuine neutrality on the Kashmir question between India and Pakistan, it could make it a lot easier for New Delhi to set aside its sovereignty argument on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Any easing of tensions with Afghanistan and India will significantly boost Pakistan’s prospects for economic advancement at home and the elevation of its international standing.
Rather than debate India’s future with Pakistan's Prime Minister-designate Imran Khan in terms of “loves me, loves me not,” Delhi should focus on strengthening its position in Afghanistan, which once again is poised to shape Pakistan’s relations with India.
The election of Imran Khan makes little difference to Pakistan's India policy, which is controlled by the army and the so-called state institutions.
While the hopes for a durable peace might be premature, the conflicts in Kashmir and Afghanistan might be entering a new phase in their long and depressing history.