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Message of good faith


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INDIAN Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has received yet another invitation to visit Pakistan — and this time it could just do the trick to work around the opposition of the hawks in both countries. President Asif Ali Zardari’s invitation to the Indian premier to come to Pakistan for the birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November and visit Mr Singh’s ancestral hometown in northern Punjab ensures that the trip will not be an official state visit. That could help defuse the criticism in establishment circles here that Pakistan has embarrassed itself by inviting Mr Singh to visit Pakistan time and time again, to no avail. In India, meanwhile, Mr Singh faces opposition from within his party and from the political opposition on visiting Pakistan while no real movement has taken place on the Mumbai attack investigations and trials inside Pakistan. So if Mr Singh were to visit Pakistan in his private capacity — albeit as a very high-profile visitor — the Indian premier and his civilian counterparts in Pakistan would be able to send a powerful message of bonhomie and good faith in the full glare of the media without invo-king the stiffest of opposition from hardliners in both countries.

That something forceful has to happen at the highest political levels in both countries if Pak-India ties are to be genuinely stabilised and pushed toward normality is quite obvious. This paper has long regarded Mr Singh as a genuine partner in peace, a leader who understands that the old paradigm of hate and suspicion only hurts both countries and prevents them from reaching their full economic, political and diplomatic potential. Similarly, on the Pakistani side, there is an important consensus across the mainstream political parties that better relations with India — if not outright peace — is not just desirable but achievable. Clearly, in both countries there are power centres that are reluctant to buy into the language of peace. Not all of that is mindless hostility — Pakistan and India do have genuine issues to resolve that are complex and somewhat understandably complicated by decades-old history. But the old paradigm does need to be shed. While it will be a long road towards achieving that, gestures such as a visit by Mr Singh could prove to be a significant step in that long journey.

Here in Pakistan, to complement the invitation, perhaps the political government can bring together the key principals on relations with India — the army, the foreign office and the political opposition — to work out where the opportunities for forward movement with India exist, particularly if Mr Singh agrees to the most recent invitation from Pakistan.

Comments (12) Closed

Asif Ansari Jul 29, 2012 10:16pm
Good! both the President Mr. Zardari and the Prime Minister Mr. Singh are very senior politicians. It is a actual fact that Pakistan and India both are Nuclear weapons countries, there confilict has been started since 1947, So why not both countries top level officails sit together and discuss every issues belongs to both countries, These two countries are the most important countries of South Asia as well in this world. This centuary belongs to education, health and technology, those are powerfull in these areas, they are called the powerfull country, So it is the need of these two countries, please resolve their problems and issues by the help of table talk. So, very welcom to Mr. Singh in Pakistan.
Suresh B. Gokhale Jul 29, 2012 06:34am
Live conversion of a Hindu youth "Sunil" to Islam on Pakistan television has given very warm and friendly message to all Hindus in Hindustan and all over the world. Congratulations!
Dr V. C. Bhutani Jul 29, 2012 02:27pm
One is not necessarily a hawk if one disagrees with the idea of the Indian PM visiting Pakistan, whether for a state visit or as a private visitor. Contrary to the position taken in the editorial, I for one do not see in Pakistan a constituency for good relations with India. All Pakistan government’s acts of omission and commission – in that order – serve to show that Pakistan government is not prepared to do even the minimum needed for setting the ball rolling. Much goes on to this day which discourages one from thinking that good India-Pakistan relations are possible. Ms Sherry Rehman says “. . . that Pakistan’s old policy of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan had changed and so had its attitude towards India” (vide Dawn of today). She may well be right, and, if true, this is heartening. But the Dawn report had not a word to add or to explicate what the ambassador had said. That does not take us very far. V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, India, 29 July 2012, 1955 IST
shahid Jul 29, 2012 12:12pm
Individual acts or to say one of the highly commercialized media outlet cannot reflect the whole nation or state stance on any particular point. Giving references of these sorts of acts is equivalent to finding excuses for writing unreasonable comments. Just remember your side is also not pious, and there are numerous examples to prove that.
shankar Jul 29, 2012 08:56am
It is not Mr. Singh or Mr. Zardari that needs a change of heart, the People of Pakistan and India need a change of heart. With the wounds of Bombay still hurting, there is nothing much Mr. Singh can do by a way of a break through.
VLRao Jul 29, 2012 10:39am
When tunnels are being discovered to smuggle armed militants to enter the Kashmir valley, and when a Hindu is converted to Islam on Pakistan TV, is that the time for the Indian Prime Minister to visit Pakistan on a good will visit? Where is the good will on the other side when such atrocious acts are being committed? And is there even an attempt being made to convict those persons known to be responsible for the attack in Mumbai?
Mohammad Jul 29, 2012 10:29am
What happens if Sunil himself wanted to change his faith to Islam ? Are you not breaching his rights by allowing him to choose his religion?
Iftikhar Husain Jul 29, 2012 11:24am
We have all shown a great opposition to this episode now everybody has to come out of this and be sensible. It is up tothe Indian Prime Minister to decide to accept it or not.
shankar Jul 29, 2012 04:50pm
Yes Mohammed, what if Sunil changes his mind tomorrow, or is he not allowed to?
Sapan Kapoor Jul 29, 2012 01:07pm
@Pakistan, Please leave us alone. Please mind your own business and leave us alone. I beseech you. You talk about improving ties between the two countries. I would say why can't we be just neutral? There should be no love, no hate, and we can thus maintain neutrality and concentrate on development. I want my country to have very limited ties with Pakistan. It's in the interest of both our people.
Syed Ahmed Jul 29, 2012 02:34pm
We should build an International Airport and a grand hotel at Taxila / Hasanabdal and allow the Sikh community to visit freely Gurdwara Sri Punja Sahib, one of the most sacred places of Sikhism. Grant of multiple visas for 10 years may also be considered.
Gerry D'Cunha Jul 29, 2012 01:56pm
I think India should follow 'tit for tat' with the muslims in their country in converting and airing on their network, then see the reaction of these fanatics. I am kidding, I know India is a senseable country and will never hurt the feelings of its million of Muslims. Shame on Pakistan!!!!