Friday, January 20, 2006

India, Pak and empty talks

Before the just concluded third round of confidence building measures, the media in Pakistan found the talks to be praiseworthy.

Leading daily Dawn, in its editorial, said that "in the last two years, New Delhi and Islamabad have at least stopped brandishing the sword and threatening to wage a war against each other".

Now, after the talks, some have just dismissed the initiative taken by both the nations as a 'damp squib'.

"Only an incorrigible optimist would remain unfazed by the outcome, peace and direction of the composite peace dialogue between India and Pakistan. Otherwise, it has delivered not even a stillborn child so far," the Frontier Post said in its editorial.

Upset with the pace and progress of the talks, the paper said that it will take ages to solve the dispute. "... It's leading to nowhere. Two rounds have passed away, without even taking the scum off any of the issues on the agenda.

In a veiled message to both the nations, the paper said that mere talking won't help and it's no 'big deal' if the nuclear-armed neighbours are talking.

"The usual crowd of cheerleaders will now be out to extol that the peace process remains on track...Despite the recent verbal spat between the two over India's provocative statements about Balochistan, they say, the window has remained open. But they are forgetting the history of the two countries' chequered relationship. Both have kept talking even in the worst of times."

The third round of CBMs, which began on January 17, was significant as it was the first high-level contact (between the two countries) this year and was held immediately after a visit of an All Party Hurriyat Conference team to Pakistan.

India and Pakistan made a fresh commitment to push forward a fragile peace process but reiterated their differences over ways to end years of enmity.

Diplomats from both the countries agreed that two-year-old peace talks had helped boost relations and were optimistic despite fears that the dialogue had reached a stalemate.

However, the stalemate over the main issue — Kashmir — continued.

Blaming the Indian side for the deadlock, Frontline Post further said: "The Indian leadership has very dexterously altered the very connotation of what actually makes up the core issue of their relationship. Pakistan says it is the Kashmir issue, and so do the objective South Asia watchers. But India has given this primacy to its contrivance of cross border terrorism".

Adding further to this, The Nation said, "This (cross border terrorism) is a pet excuse to divert attention from the resolution of the dispute."

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had recently suggested its neighbour to pull out troops from three districts of Kashmir — Srinagar, Kupwara and Baramulla — in exchange for Pak's help to root out terror. New Delhi had outrightly rejected it.

Reacting on this, Frontier Post said, "Obviously, India doesn't view Kashmir dispute as we see it...the Indians are yet to talk seriously on Kashmir".

Pakistan has clearly and strongly given out the message that the talks need substance too.

"The Foreign Office may well have reasons for the confidence it maintains about India's sincerity to resolve the issue, but little evidence is there to substantiate it," said The Nation daily.

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