Indian officials showed great restraint in not letting the devastating bombings in New Delhi divert their attention from a landmark agreement with Pakistan to open border crossings in the heavily militarised and earthquake-devastated Kashmir region. Their decision revealed a new maturity in relations between the rivals that augurs well for the eventual resolution of the conflict over the disputed territory. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rightly denounced the bombings on civilian targets on Saturday night as 'dastardly acts of terrorism'. But he and other officials refrained from the usual line of blaming Pakistan, while the rival neighbour uncharacteristically condemned the bloodshed. When militants attacked the Indian parliament almost four years ago, the response was near war; this time, on both sides, there was a level-headed calmness. Despite dozens of separatist and insurgent groups being active in India, those in Kashmir backed by Pakistan had always been the first to be accused. This time, circumstances are markedly different, despite the latest toll and the manner in which the attacks were carried out: bombings targeting ordinary Indians at two crowded markets and on a bus days before the important Hindu festival of Diwali. The attacks occurred as Pakistan struggles to recover from the October 8 quake, which killed 80,000 and is likely to claim many more lives as cold weather sets in and isolated communities remain unreachable by aid workers. India - also affected by the 1,300 deaths on its side of the Kashmir border - has offered Pakistan US$25 million in aid. By agreeing to talks on opening the Kashmir border to allow food, tents and medical help through and visits by separated families, its leaders were offering a rare hand of friendship in a time of need. India is sensitive to opening the border because of a 16-year insurgency by Islamic militants in Kashmir who seek to make the Indian portion independent or unite it with Pakistan. At least 44,000 people have died in that time in the disputed region and in attacks elsewhere in India. Yet, hours after the New Delhi blasts, India and Pakistan early yesterday issued a joint statement establishing crossings next Monday at five points along the Line of Control, which has divided the Himalayan region for 58 years. This is a welcome gesture of humanitarian support, as well as a major political step towards resolution and reconciliation. It is a pity that it has taken a devastating natural disaster to bring the sides closer; nonetheless, even in the face of terrorism that has in the past led to increased tension and often bloodshed, it is a sign of a positive new era of understanding. Now that there is impetus, both sides must do their utmost to ensure the new spirit of co-operation and understanding continues and flourishes.