The meeting between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan was tracked very closely in both countries and while expectations were not very high, the resumption of talks has been welcomed here.
Lt. General (retd.) Talat Masood, chief coordinator of Pugwash, told The Hindu that the talks seemed to have been held in a cordial atmosphere and the two leaders exchanged views and discussed whatever concerns they had. The outcome was reasonable but not ambitious, he said, adding that hopefully, there would be a follow-up in the spirit of the meeting.
The fact that the two Directors-General of Military Operations would meet was a good sign but the talks should have also agreed to a meeting between the two Army chiefs, he added.
The former Ambassador to India, Ashraf J. Qazi, said the meeting went according to expectations and the main thing was that it took place. The atmosphere was good though no breakthroughs were expected in any case. The question was whether the two countries would build on this in the next few months or not and whether in the forthcoming elections in India this issue would be prioritised or not.
He said the Prime Ministers visiting each other’s countries could help. “Nawaz Sharif needs to assert his leadership and as for Manmohan Singh he can leave a legacy of peace and he has nothing to lose in any case,” Mr. Qazi said. There are difficulties in the road ahead but if you have what it takes then both sides stand to gain,” he felt.
Members of the media expected that the meeting would lead to further gains in terms of a cordial relationship between the countries but sounded a word of caution on whether this would result in a meaningful step forward.
Senior journalist and columnist Ghazi Salahuddin said that ultimately he was waiting for a paradigm shift in the relations but it might not come soon.
However, there was no other option for the two countries which had to work for peace. “In South Asia, we are different from other regions — we carry so much baggage of prejudice and we don’t know how to deal with history. But if you look at China and Taiwan or even Europe, it shows they have dealt with history and moved ahead.”
He said war was not an option for India and Pakistan and he was optimistic that there would be some sort of catalyst in the future taking the relationship to a more cordial level.
Kamal Siddiqui, editor of Express Tribune, said, “One can be hopeful and it’s good the two leaders met but whether all this will translate into something meaningful on the ground is what one should look for.”