Time To Move Forward

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Reference news reports about recent meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and Dr Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the NAM summit in Tehran. Had they not met it would have been the news of the day. But the ritual meeting has been so common now that no one gives a damn about such encounters. Kashmir Observer rightly gave the news, unlike other run of the mill newspapers here, single column treatment.

There have been nearly half-a-dozen ritualistic and informal meetings between the Indian prime minister and Pakistan’s top leaders at one or the other summit. After their meeting at the 2010 Saarc summit in Thimphu, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the Indian prime minister met three times — at Mohali last year during the cricket World Cup semifinal, in Maldives in November 2011 and in Seoul in March 2012.

In addition, there was the much-hyped lunch at New Delhi for President Zardari by Dr Singh in April. The latter two met again in Tehran without conceding any ground.

Both leaders need to come out of the partition mode now. Prime Minister Singh should visit Pakistan now. Two parties should move beyond reiterating their known positions to try and achieve more substantive results. As the stronger of the two sides, will it be too much to expect New Delhi to show flexibility and desist from the temptation to apply pressure on Pakistan at a time when it finds itself in a nutcracker situation? On its part, Islamabad has to dispel the impression that the procrastination of the issue of helping push in militants into India.

Syed Masood-ul-Hassan

Afandi Colony, Rawalpora

Srinagar

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