Pak media terms Singh-Sharif meeting as ‘minor miracle’

Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani media today termed the first meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif as a “minor miracle” and noted that the dialogue held amidst a tense atmosphere yielded “words” but “no action”.

The much anticipated meeting between the two Prime Ministers took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York yesterday.

The News International in its editorial said the prelude to the meeting could not have been more disastrous, and that the meeting itself took place is a “minor miracle” as both sides called it useful and constructive.

The Dawn newspaper said the meeting with the “lowest expectations” was perhaps a small victory for both the nations, while the Daily Times said the intent shown by both the neighbours to continue the process of dialogue and peace negotiations was encouraging.

The Dawn editorial headlined “Words, no action”, praised Singh for holding talks despite “pressure domestically”.

The News said Prime Minister Singh has “devoted much of his speech” at the United Nations General Assembly to the question of Pakistan and terrorism, calling “us an ‘epicentre of terrorism’ and refusing to negotiate over the status of Kashmir.”

“The tense atmosphere quickly turned farcical when it was claimed that Nawaz Sharif had compared Manmohan Singh to a ‘village woman’ in an off-the-record meeting with journalists, although other attendees denied he said any such thing,” it said.

The editorial also brought in BJP leader Narendra Modi’s comments at a rally in New Delhi and said External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid “poured further fuel to the fire by blaming the Pakistan military and the ISI for not obeying PM Nawaz and for militancy in Kashmir.”

Given this backdrop, that the meeting itself took place is a minor miracle, as both sides called it useful and constructive, the editorial said.

By all accounts, the meeting was successful in its very limited aim of kick-starting diplomacy even though no outstanding issues were going to be solved in just one meeting, the editorial said.

It ended by saying “still, that Pakistan and India decided to continue with talks at a time when hawks on both sides are more vociferous than ever should still be seen as a net positive.”

The Dawn underlined that while the politicians and diplomats meet and shake hands and offer up anodyne sound bites for the media, the temptation to view it from a prism of unremitting cynicism may be great.

However, there is some room for cautious realism, if not optimism, the Dawn said

On the positive side, the post-meeting press briefings eschewed hard-hitting statements and it became clear that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif believe that normalisation of ties is the desired outcome between India and Pakistan, the Dawn editorial said.

It said that without a shadow of a doubt, Sharif believes that Pakistan’s progress lies, in great part, in the normalisation of ties with India, be it through trade, people crossing borders freely or cross-border investment.

“And now in the fag end of his prime ministerial career, Mr Singh has demonstrated that even when under extreme pressure domestically, he will keep the door to talks with Pakistan open,” the editorial said.

The Pakistani TV channels had also aired live the press conference by National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon. -PTI