“What next?” was the question our worthy legislators should have scratched their brains to find some plausible answers to. But they preferred delivering rhetorical speeches.

Mian Shehbaz Sharif, the opposition leader, proved a huge disappointment in this context. Instead of focusing on the current and ominous developments, he delivered a speech that sounded more suited for debate-contest of a high school.

After all, initiating the general debate on current state of Indo-Pak relations at a joint parliamentary sitting, Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced a dramatic move.

He announced the release of the Indian pilot, captured within Pakistan’s territory after downing of a MIG plane flown by him.

He described his decision as a “peace gesture.” It looked like a unilateral step to generate goodwill.

Humane and decent looking gestures always hint at some kind of agreement or understanding, reached through quiet diplomatic efforts, however.

One prefers imagining that through multiple channels, Pakistan must have received solid vibes, suggesting that the “peace gesture” of its prime minister would nudge India to seriously negotiate for lasting peace between the nuclear-armed archrivals of South Asia.

The brief speech, Prime Minister Imran Khan delivered in measured tone, did not suggest such understanding, though.

He rather revealed that the Indian Prime Minister was yet not willing to take his phone call. Pakistan also endured a very tense night the day earlier, anticipating “missile attacks” from India.

Yet, he kept pleading for peace, although with reiteration of the resolve that Pakistan remained vigilant, determined and ever ready for any kind of aggression.

Not one speaker from the opposition benches questioned the validity of the “peace gesture,” Prime Minister appeared to have announced “unilaterally.” But teasing, taunting and blaming questions can be expected, if India fails to respond positively.

Pakistan had surely looked one-up at the end of Round 1 that India had initiated, for sure, to push things to the brink.

In the dark hours of a night, three days ago, Indian planes sneaked into our territory. They were timely checked and were made to return in fear.

Instead of admitting a visibly failed attempt to sneak into our territory with hostile intent, India had boasted to hit a “terrorist camp” through the said intrusion. There also were loud and repeated claims of “300 deaths.”

The global media disregarded these claims and viewed them as the assuaging boasting, primarily spun to clam the keyboard warriors and TV anchors of India, baying for a do or die war with Pakistan.

Pakistan could not afford disregarding the boastful claims and nonstop gloating over a “surgical strike.”

Wednesday morning, a highly calculated response was initiated that led to downing of an Indian plane and the arrest of its pilot in Pakistan’s territory.

Wisely, we refrained from flaunting the said incident as “trophy” for winning Round-1. “Peace gesture” was rather preferred to allure India to a comprehensive process of seeking peace in the region.

None other than the US President had talked of “decent” and “relatively attractive” news, promising substantive de-escalation between India and Pakistan, hours before Imran Khan announced his “peace gesture.”

Trump’s remarks provided substance to people imagining India and Pakistan looking for means to pull themselves away from the brink.

Some Delhi-based journalists, known for active access to Indian diplomats and deep state, however, mocked at Trump’s remarks. They were rather told by “sources” that India had “many channels” to communicate things to Pakistan “directly” and needed no “third party” as a “mediator.” It was a clear attempt to snub the US President.

Trump, however, has proven more informed. Pakistan’s prime minister announced the “peace gesture” after airing of his remarks. India also cancelled the press talk that its services’ chiefs were scheduled to hold at 5 pm (IST) Thursday.

Prime Minister Modi certainly needs to seriously script his next move. After the “peace gesture,” announced by Pakistan’s Prime Minister, he would be compelled to look “good and reasonable” to international community. That requires abandoning the idea of dictating to Pakistan by weapon-employing bullying.

Round-1, however, has not furnished a face-saver to him. He looks like a loser at the end of it and general elections are almost around the corner in India. He had swept the elections in 2014 by boasting about his 56-inch breast.

After pretending as born-to-conqueror type for so long, he might not be able to reconcile with the image of a loser.

Pakistan’s political and military leadership must have war-gamed his dilemma before announcing the “peace gesture” of Thursday. We have to wait and see how Modi reacts to it.