Pakistani media underplays peace talks

May 22nd, 2008 - 1:59 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad, May 22 (IANS) The Pakistani media Thursday underplayed the fourth round of the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan that concluded with the signing of an agreement for consular access to prisoners. The talks concluded in Islamabad Saturday with Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressing a joint press conference.

Most papers and television channels reported little progress on the key issues between the two countries. “Qureshi, Mukherjee make little progress - Pakistan offers ‘grand reconciliation’,” the Dawn daily said in its front page report.

However, unlike previous talks between the ministers of the two countries, less importance was given by the Pakistani media to the conclusion of the fourth round, despite the fact that an important document according consular access to prisoners was signed.

The News called it “a meeting of minds to move forward on Kashmir”, saying that the talks could not make any significant progress. However, the paper gave importance to signing of the agreement and both the sides agreeing to start the fifth round.

The News, like all other English and Urdu newspapers, gave more coverage to local issues like the peace deal with militants in tribal areas and President Pervez Musharraf’s office saying that he would not resign.

The news about Sarabjit Singh, an Indian prisoner on death row in Pakistan, was not carried in any of the papers as it was neither mentioned in the joint statement issued after the talks nor in the joint press conference addressed by the two foreign ministers.

However, the papers highlighted the death of a Pakistani woman prisoner in India. Reports said that Rashida Begum lodged in Amritser Jail died when she was being taken to a court for hearing.

The Daily Times and The Nation gave importance to the relaxing of visa conditions by both countries. Mukherjee’s meeting with President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani was carried in the inside pages with none of the English-language papers giving it front-page coverage.

The Urdu press highlighted the consular access agreement calling it a milestone. Leading papers like Jang, Nawa-e-Waqt, Express, Aajkal and Khabrian portrayed the agreement as the main outcome of the Pakistan-India talks so far. The papers also called for early release of prisoners especially those who have completed their sentence.

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