Manmohan offering ‘badly needed’ olive branch: Pakistani media


Islamabad: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has offered a “badly needed” olive branch to restore sub-continental peace by offering to walk half the way to resume the dialogue with Pakistan, an editorial in a leading English daily said Thursday, while another hoped Islamabad would “be able to meet” New Delhi at that point.

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Manmohan Singh’s statement in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday “will be seen as the olive branch that is badly needed in the present state of impasse between India and Pakistan”, Dawn said in an editorial headlined “A silver lining”.

“This is one of the rare occasions that a silver lining has appeared in the dark cloud that has symbolised ties between the two South Asian neighbours since the Mumbai carnage,” the editorial contended.

Noting that there was “heartburn and differences in perception” on the issue of terrorism even when the dialogue process, frozen after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks was on, Dawn said “these could have been talked out at the negotiating table if talks had continued”.

“The Indian prime minister says Pakistan must accept its share of responsibility (for the Mumbai mayhem) but it is not clear what is expected of Islamabad.

“But one would want the threads to be picked up from where they were dropped. Islamabad cannot be pushed to the wall and India should also understand how the Kashmir dispute, regarded as a core issue in Pakistan, creates constraints when New Delhi refuses to address its substance,” the editorial maintained.

Manmohan Singh, while replying Tuesday to the motion of thanks on President Pratibha Patil’s address to a joint session of parliament, said: “It is in India’s vital interests to again try to make peace with Pakistan.”

“If the leaders of Pakistan have the courage, determination and statesmanship to take this road to peace, I wish to assure them that we will meet them more than half way,” Manmohan Singh maintained.

This was interpreted as a sign of India’s readiness to resume the composite dialogue process with Pakistan.

The remarks also acquired added significance in view of speculation about a possible meeting between Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg June 16.

The two leaders are expected to meet on the sidelines of the summit of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) where the two countries have observer status.

The News hoped Pakistan would “be able to meet New Delhi” at the half way point Manmohan Singh spoke about.

“As the Indian PM said, the region we live in is a volatile one. Its problems can be solved only through mutual cooperation and understanding,” the editorial, headlined “Half the way”, maintained.

Noting that Manmohan Singh had taken up the issue of ties with Pakistan immediately after beginning his second tenure, the editorial said this “signals the confidence that comes with convincing electoral victory”.

“In the run up to the polls, the Congress Party had shied away from taking a ‘soft’ line on Pakistan, for fear it would be pounced on by hard-line rivals,” the editorial said, adding: “But perhaps this should be put down to the rigorous demands of electoral politics.”

“It is time to move on and finally look beyond the events at Mumbai,” the editorial added.