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Pakistan media terms Musharraf-PM meeting as mixed bag

By K J M Varma in Islamabad
September 17, 2005 16:34 IST
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Terming the outcome of the New York meeting between President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a mixed bag, the media in Islamabad on Saturday said Pakistan's persistent efforts to seek the United States' help in pressing India to expedite a solution to the Kashmir issue was a "non-starter".

"Although the president tried to reject the impression that the peace process had been deadlocked, the part involving Kashmir remains at a standstill. India has shown persistent intransigence."

"The idea that the Bush administration would be asked to press it to expedite solution is a non-starter," local daily The Nation said in an editorial, apparently refering to Musharraf's request to US President George W Bush to pressurise India to withdraw troops from some areas in Jammu and Kashmir.

It said the acceptance of invitation by Dr Singh to visit Islamabad cannot be termed a breakthrough as projected by the Pakistan officials.

"Kashmir's just resolution is so vital to Pakistan that it would be a great blunder to compromise on our principled stand, as that would be acceptable neither to Kashmiris nor Pakistanis. We should seriously review our fast-track approach on Confidence Building Measures," the paper said.

Another newspaper Dawn in its editorial said the September 14 Musharraf-Dr Singh talks "produced mixed results.

Those who were hoping that new confidence building measures, especially a reduction in Indian military presence in Kashmir, would be announced have been disappointed. But the positive aspect of the meeting was that the Indian prime minister has agreed to visit Pakistan soon."

Dawn said the joint statement issued on the occasion confirmed the commitment of the two sides to ensure a peaceful settlement of all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, and to pursue all possible options in this regard.

"The fact is that it is often forgotten that for the first time in decades India and Pakistan are jointly attempting to address and resolve conflicts and differences of long standing. It is unrealistic to expect them to find solutions to complex issues in a short time."

"Even if they manage to keep the dialogue going, it is a mark of success. Hence, President Musharraf was right when he said that his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were not a failure," the daily said.

It also patted both Musharraf and Singh for not resorting to "war or words" after they took divergent stands in their addresses to the United Nations General Assembly.

In its editorial, The News said Musharraf's promise to Dr Singh that Pakistan would look in a "positive spirit" at the emotive issue of alleged Indian spy Sarabjit Singh's release "may not be something substantive".

But Pakistan's decision to grant licence on the same day to a company for the operation of a ferry between Karachi and Mumbai was significant, the paper noted.

"In short, visible progress or not, Pakistani-Indian relations are firmly on course after the summit. Before the talks, it had been a case of our keeping our fingers crossed, anyway, with no one having predicted a breakthrough, as before the Agra summit of July 2001. Let's be grateful for the fact that there was no failure, although that hadn't been expected, either," it said.

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K J M Varma in Islamabad
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