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Manmohan must reach out to Pakistan: Daily

Pakistan,Diplomacy,Indo-Pak/Pakistan, Wed, 04 Apr 2012 IANS

Islamabad, April 4 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should "rise above the compulsions of domestic politics and realise the overall benefits accruing to South Asia from an India-Pakistan rapprochement", a leading Pakistani daily said Wednesday.


The editorial in the Dawn comes ahead of the April 8 trip of President Asif Ali Zardari's to India that has been billed as a private visit.


"Can a presidential visit to India really remain private, no matter how compelling the reason for confining it to prayers in Ajmer's holy precincts? The answer is in the negative, for Zardari will have a meeting with Manmohan Singh over lunch in New Delhi on Sunday before returning home the same day via Ajmer," said the daily.


It added that this will be Zardari's first visit to India as president and the first by a Pakistani head of state since Gen Pervez Musharraf's 'cricket visit' to New Delhi in 2005.


"Should we be upbeat about the luncheon meeting only to be disappointed later?" the editorial asked.


"High-level contacts between Pakistani and Indian leaders over the last couple of years have remained just that and no more. Yousuf Raza Gilani and the Indian prime minister met at least four times - at the World Cup semi-final at Mohali, on the sidelines of the Saarc summits in Thimphu and the Maldives and at the recent nuclear safety conference at Seoul.


"But barring an exchange of platitudes, nothing came of them, for there was no progress even on less contentious issues like Sir Creek, visa liberalisation and cultural exchanges," it said.


The daily noted that "to expect that the luncheon get-together will get the ball rolling and nudge the two foreign offices into quickening the pace of the normalisation process is to be naive".


But the editorial went on to say that there is one opportunity which Singh can seize to make the difference: "He can undertake the much-delayed visit to Pakistan."


"The Indian prime minister is known to be keen on improving relations with Pakistan, but has to face stiff opposition from the hawks in his cabinet. More unfortunately, with the Congress party routed in the UP (Uttar Pradesh) election, the hawks and even the rank and file in the Congress party would not let the Indian prime minister do anything that can cost them votes.


"That is where Singh can rise above the compulsions of domestic politics and realise the overall benefits accruing to South Asia from an India-Pakistan rapprochement. If undertaken, a reciprocal visit by the Indian prime minister could break the ice that has been there since Mumbai 2008," it added.


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