Home ministers’ meeting ‘immensely promising’: Pakistani media


Islamabad : The Pakistani media have welcomed the bonhomie between India and Pakistan following the meeting of their home ministers, but expressed apprehension that the warmth may fizzle out if both countries do not move beyond their entrenched demands.

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Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram reached Pakistan Friday to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) home ministers’ conference and also meet his Pakistani counterpart, Rehman Malik.

Pakistan’s largest selling English newspaper, Dawn had an editorial Sunday titled “No movement”, which pointed out that India was still insisting on substantive action against the Mumbai terror suspects in Pakistan, as well as other “India-centric militant groups”.

But, it postulated that Pakistan was unlikely to do much on these points, as these India-centric groups were not only not high on the list of the Pakistan Army but also it could not be seen bowing down to these “core Indian demands”.

“If change in tone does not lead to a change in substantive positions, at least on the issue of talking – and talking about the issues, not talks about talks – then Pakistan and India look set to continue this delicate diplomatic dance that convinces no one,” wrote Dawn newspaper.

It admitted that Indian officials were “not upbeat”, which could mean “that the caravan of hope risks becoming a diplomatic circus”.

“The governments of India and Pakistan owe it to their people to do all that can be done to move their nations closer towards the path of peace. Anything less, and the perpetrators of Mumbai would have won,” it noted.

A more upbeat, optimistic note was made by the other newspapers, which hoped that even though terrorism featured in the talks, it will not impede progress on other fronts.

“While militancy will undoubtedly figure again, whenever talks take place, the two countries seem to be moving towards a new readiness to accept that they need to move ahead towards normalizing ties. This of course is a development to be welcomed,” said The News.

Similarly, Express Tribune, in its editorial, titled “A rocky road to peace” termed the meeting between the two ministers as “immensely promising”.

But, it also admitted that the gulf was not yet “completely bridged” and that India may not wait forever for Pakistan to take action.

“It is clear that its patience is running out on that score – but there is hope. Conceivably action against the JuD (Jamaat-ud-Dawa) can be tied in with the measures planned against militant groups based in Punjab,” said Express Tribune.

At the same time, the newspaper hoped that Islamabad will be able to persuade New Delhi to look beyond terrorism. “It is pointless to hold up progress on all other fronts,” it said, adding that the “state of paralysis suffered after November 2008 (attacks)” should be avoided.

But, it also believed that both countries, with the recent meeting of foreign secretaries, home ministers and the forthcoming meeting of foreign ministers, were moving towards “full normalization of relations”.