Pak media hails decision to resume Indo-Pak talks

The influential Dawn newspaper, in an editorial titled "A Step Forward", said "considerable give and take" will be required by both countries in the days to come.

"Credit must go to both sides for seizing the moment and breaking the impasse. Instead of describing the outcome of the meeting as some kind of victory for Pakistan we would do well to hail India's timely recognition that terrorism and militancy should not be allowed to come in the way of improved relations," it said.

Following the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani yesterday on the sidelines of the NAM Summit in Egypt, India and Pakistan agreed to cooperate in fighting terrorism and announced tentative steps aimed at resuming talks that were suspended in the wake of the Mumbai attacks in November 2007.

The Nation, in an editorial titled "The Core Issue", said Gilani's observation during the NAM summit that there could be no lasting peace in the region unless the issue of Kashmir is resolved should be heeded by the Indian leadership.

Bilateral relations cannot improve "if India sticks to an erroneous kind of thinking that Islamabad is in cahoots with the militants", it cautioned.

Chat shows on Pakistani TV news channels played up Singh's agreement to discuss all outstanding issues despite India's earlier insistence that talks should focus on terrorism and Pakistan's probe into the Mumbai attacks.

The delinking of composite dialogue with terrorism is seen as a climbdown by India as it has all along maintained that dialogue cannot be held till there is concrete action against terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

The joint statement issued after the meeting also contained a reference to "threats" in Balochistan, where Pakistan has been alleging Indian hand in terror incidents.

The chat show hosts also made much of the fact that Pakistan's concerns about India's alleged role in fomenting unrest in Balochistan was mentioned in the joint statement.

The Dawn also said Pakistan needs to do everything in its power to crack down hard on all organisations and individuals whose goal is to unleash violence against our neighbours to the east. "India, for its part, must understand Pakistan’s position at a time when Islamabad is fighting militancy on several fronts," it said.

The Daily Times, in its editorial, said any future talks between the two countries "must not be a repetition of what has been happening in the past" and "must be based on a new agenda formulated after back-stage diplomacy and a prior mutual accommodation over basic issues".

Noting that the peace process started in 2004 had succeeded in keeping the situation under control despite ups and downs, The Post newspaper stated in its editorial that it would be "unrealistic to expect an immediate solution of the 60-years old hostility in the space of a couple of years".

The only option for the two countries is to "build on the resolve to take this process forward in the face of the challenge that is terrorism", it counselled.

Lt Gen (retired) Talat Masood, one of Pakistan's foremost strategic analysts, said the future of the bilateral peace process would now depend on two key factors – the Pakistani military establishment's willingness to cooperate with the civilian government in building better ties with India and the flexibility shown by New Delhi in its dealings with Islamabad.

"There is a certain amount of ambiguity about the military establishment willingness to cooperate with the civilian set-up for building relations with India," Masood said.

"At the same time, India's attitude needs to be more flexible to give confidence to the Pakistan government and, more importantly, the public who often raise questions about the peace process with India," he said.

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