Little achieved at India-Pakistan talks: editorials

May 23rd, 2008 - 1:35 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Islamabad, May 23 (IANS) India and Pakistan achieved little at their just-concluded talks here but what stood out was the bonhomie that existed between their foreign ministers, editorials in newspapers here said Friday. “Even though the two foreign ministers displayed much bonhomie and spoke in positive terms of the future of the normalisation process, it is very obvious that the fourth round of India-Pakistan talks in Islamabad failed to make any remarkable progress,” Dawn said in an editorial headlined “The dialogue continues”.

Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi Wednesday concluded their review of the fourth round of the composite dialogue process. The fifth round will begin in New Delhi in July.

“No significant strides forward have emerged” from the talks, The News said in its editorial titled “Spirit of goodwill”.

Daily Times sought to draw a relationship between the India-Pakistan peace process and the talks Islamabad is conducting with the Taliban to restore peace in the country’s restive northwestern areas bordering Afghanistan.

“The success of the peace talks with the Taliban will have an indirect effect on how the peace process goes ahead with India,” Daily Times said in an editorial headlined “Negotiating two kinds of peace”.

According to Dawn, signing an agreement giving consular access to prisoners in each other’s jails “and some minor accords on confidence-building measures already in place will no doubt promote greater goodwill between the two countries and ease human hardship”.

“But they hardly constitute a major breakthrough,” the newspaper said, adding that what was found missing at the end of the talks was progress on any of the substantive issues such as Siachen and Sir Creek, “much less on Jammu and Kashmir”.

Even a date for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Pakistan could not be announced, the editorial noted.

“The silver lining in the cloud was the positive way in which the two foreign ministers spoke and pledged the two sides would continue the pursuit of detente,” Dawn maintained.

Despite the lack of a big breakthrough, The News said: “it is important that both foreign ministers seem to have struck a highly cordial note, with much optimism being expressed about the next round of talks.

“The talk of attempting to tackle Kashmir at later rounds of talks is also encouraging, as is the fact that recent blasts in Jaipur have not damaged the determination of both countries to establish closer ties,” the editorial added.

According to Daily Times, Pakistan’s twin peace processes “are supported and objected to by various elements directly or indirectly related to the talks”.

“In the case of the talks with India, the entire world is ‘on board’ but forces of Pakistani nationalism and some stakeholders in Pakistan’s internal contest for power object to there being ‘no movement on the core Kashmir issue’.

“In the case of peace talks with the Taliban, there seems to be an internal consensus on holding them because ‘we don’t want to fight someone else’s war’; but the world outside, led by America forcefully and Europe indignantly, doesn’t want Islamabad to talk to the Taliban,” the newspaper said.

“From here the two cases diverge,” Daily Times said, holding out hope for both processes to succeed.

“Pakistan and India as states are not two wrestlers acting out their fruitless combat in space. They are both embedded in the larger background of Saarc and the resolutions they have signed under its umbrella for the creation of a regional free market.

“On the other hand, peace talks with the Taliban will succeed only if Islamabad has the advantage of military and administrative dominance on the ground and speaks from a position of strength,” Daily Times maintained.

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