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Manmohan Singh, Zardari meet in Tehran, commit to dialogue process

Posted On August 31, 2012

What has been bedeviling India-Pakistan relations is neither Kashmir nor Sir Creek or Siachen. The absence of trust between the two countries which were separated at independence is the biggest gulf that should be bridged for any forward movement.

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Poreg View: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Asif Ali Zardari met in Tehran on the sidelines of the Non-aligned summit on Aug 30. This was their second meeting this year; the earlier they met in New Delhi, when Zardari was on pilgrimage to Ajmer in April. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar described the meeting as “good” – a view echoed by her Indian counterpart S M Krishna who was also present at the meeting. Both leaders reiterated the desire for close bilateral relations and improved trade.

Dr Singh asked the Pakistani leader to act firmly against the 26/11 perpetrators. And President Zardari said Pakistan and India must make determined efforts and maintain focus to steer their dialogue process in a productive and result-oriented manner. “We have covered a lot of ground but we still have to go a long way. He said Pakistan was keenly looking forward to a visit by Prime Minister Singh at an early date. Indian Prime Minister promised to travel to Islamabad at an ‘appropriate time’. His keenness to travel to Pakistan is known. Given the peculiar nature of India-Pak relations, a Prime Minister’s visit must necessarily be preceded by lot of home work and there must be enough pointers that the visit would indeed be path breaking. One indicator is Pakistan acting against the perpetrators of Mumbai massacre who are on its soil, many of them freely moving around the country.

The headlines and editorial comments in Pakistani news papers are uniformly the same this time around.  Mere ritual summit, said Dawn, the sedate English daily. The Nation saw the Singh-Zardari discussions as a ‘fruitless exercise’. From the tone and tenor of the comments it is clear that Islamabad wants India to move out of 26/11 frame to put it mildly. Islamabad’s case, as stated by President Zardari himself is that the two parties should move beyond reiterating their known positions to try and achieve more substantive results.

In so many words, it means that New Delhi should stop harping upon the Mumbai case and resist using the issue to test Pakistani’s sincerity. It is a call frankly speaking for flexibility on the part of India since Pakistan is passing through tough times and is in a ‘nutcracker situation’. The question is: should India forget history, and move ahead hoping for every thing to be honky-dory in its relations with Pakistan.  

History is a stepping stone for a better tomorrow. One keeps learning from the past while charting the course for today and tomorrow. In that sense, the ball is literally in Pakistan’s court. It must be clear as to what it can offer as the trade off if India is to heed its request.

What has been bedeviling relations between the two countries which were separated at independence is neither Kashmir nor Sir Creek or Siachen. The absence of trust is the biggest deficit. It should be bridged for any forward movement.

As Dawn put it, ‘Islamabad has to dispel the impression that the procrastination of the Mumbai suspects’ trial is on purpose, and, instead, by expediting the process, show that Islamabad is as keen as New Delhi to bring the terrorists to book’.

– m rama rao


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