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PM, Zardari talks on right track, says Indian media

Delhi,Diplomacy,Indo-Pak/Pakistan,Media, Mon, 09 Apr 2012 IANS

New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) Both India and Pakistan have gained from President Asif Ali Zardari's talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here, the Indian media said Monday with one paper cautioning that the "real test" to normalise ties begins now.


The Indian Express newspaper said the high profile political encounter between the leaders of India and Pakistan Monday went according to the script.


It said the lunch meeting between the two leaders seemed to have set the stage for an early and productive visit by the Indian prime minister to Pakistan.


"The real test for Singh and Zardari, however, begins now. There are enough spoilers on either side to limit the possibilities.


"The army, the militant groups and Zardari's countless political opponents in Pakistan come readily to mind. The conservative elements in the Congress, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and the habitual hawks in Delhi's bureaucratic establishment have demurred at Singh's penchant for normalising ties with Pakistan," the newspaper wrote in an editorial.


The Asian Age said both countries may have gained, even if incrementally, from the visit.


It said Zardari's lunch with the prime minister "in a conducive atmosphere" in the Indian capital will push the sense along that "the mood is not one of hostility although Islamabad has done little to bring the Mumbai attackers to justice".


The daily said "Pakistan's small `peace constituency' may be bolstered if the Indian leader goes to Pakistan".


Political analyst Saeed Naqvi said in an article in The Hindu that Zardari's pilgrimage to Ajmer has symbolic value for Pakistan and beyond.


"The appearance of such a large Pakistani delegation at Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti's shrine in Ajmer will strike a chord with an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis who are more comfortable with the soft, humane message of the Sufis compared with vengefulness that Hafiz Saeed represents," Naqvi wrote.


Newspaper headlines focused on the issues of cross-border terrorism and action against 26/11 mastermind and Jamaat ud Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed being raised by the prime minister.


Peace talks between the two countries were derailed after the Mumbai attacks in 2008.


Newspapers also reported on the meeting between Pakistan Peoples Party chairman and Zardari's son Bilawal Zardari Bhutto and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi at the lunch hosted by the prime minister.


The newspapers noted that Mehboob Elahi, a former India spy who had once stayed with Zardari in Karachi central jail, had been keen to meet him Sunday to raise the issue of Indian prisoners of war languishing in jails across the border.


Zardari's visit to India was the first by a Pakistan president in seven years.


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