For the longest time India’s quest for induction into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) seemed destined to be another issue on which India and Pakistan stand poles apart, with little to no bilateral engagement. The NSG stood divided – with Turkey, Ireland and New Zealand opposed to India’s bid – and key member, such as the USA and China stood on opposite sides of the issue. With sides picked, there was little potential for consensus.

India’s direct approach to China through the visit of Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar to Beijing on June 16 has changed that equation. There has been no stated change in policy nor has there been any consensus, but the statement by Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday, hints at an amicable solution to the disagreement. According to her, India does not object to any country joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on merit, including Pakistan. Although she did not expressly endorse Pakistan’s bid, she spent the rest of the statement talking up the mooted meeting between Indian Prime Narendra Modi and Chinese President Li Xinping on the sidelines two-day summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Tashkent.

The implication seems to be that India may support Pakistan joining the NSG if gets India in it too. Considering Pakistan’s contentions with India’s membership of the NSG was the country-specific exception to India, instead of a principal objection, supporting Pakistan’s bid will be in India’s interest.

It has been the stated objective of Pakistan that is India gets membership, Pakistan should get on too. Both nations have refused to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Both suffered sanctions as a result of their actions. As of today, both nations also have large populations suffering from and energy crisis. Even the military nuclear programmes are contingent on each other. The case is simple, and the solution is equally so.

Can India and Pakistan’s rise above the cycle of jingoism and mutual hostility to take a step that benefits both of them remains to be seen. A lot is riding on the meeting between the premiers of China and India and what concessions Modi is willing to make, as well as Pakistan’s response to this development.

As with all breakthrough in India Pakistan relation, critics tend to be over-optimistic about the smallest one; this too may turn out to be a flash in the pan.