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Mere ritual

Published Sep 01, 2012 01:07am


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HAD there been no meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and Dr Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the NAM summit, it would have been the news of the day. Which is why 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, at Addu, 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 on Thursday — again on the ‘sidelines’ of the NAM summit in Tehran — without conceding any ground. The only meeting the South Asian neighbours didn’t owe to an international extravaganza was over lunch, but this, too, was a spin-off from President Zardari’s Ajmer pilgrimage. Moral of the story: neither side has cared to arrange a bilateral meeting for its own sake to break the ice.

The Tehran meeting showed the Indian leadership is still stuck at Mumbai, with Dr Singh emphasising the need for the expeditious conclusion of the trial of the Mumbai terror suspects. All that the Indian leader could offer as sop was that he would visit Pakistan at ‘an appropriate date’. Mr Zardari still spoke of Dr Singh’s ‘vision’ but hit the nail on the head when he called upon the two parties to 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 Mumbai suspects’ trial is on purpose, and, instead, by expediting the process, show that Islamabad is as keen as New Delhi to bring the terrorists to justice.

Comments (5) Closed

Murthy Sep 01, 2012 06:26am
Mere ritual, exactly. And the two countries may well do without it for some time because it is sickening to read the cliches, which the news reports are. Pretending to be maintaining normalcy, when nothing is normal, is the most absurd thing we come across both in the print and electronic media.
Asif Ansari Sep 02, 2012 09:53am
This is a good sign that both country's top level official sits together, keep the company and drinking a cup of tea. Mr. Zardari and Mr. Singh met a number of times and try to solve the hot issues, but we people know the both countries have many crocodiles they do not want to solve the matter easily and soon. All the practices done only for time passing, 65 years gone but we are still at the same point where we start. Table-talk is the best way to solve any issue, every country does it and we also, but the major question is that what is the result? People of both countries want to know about this. India lead to Pakistan in economy, education, health, research and technology and we are making electoral list, facing dengue mosquitoes, closed schools, jobless students and especially terrorism. Uff........,
M. Asghar Sep 01, 2012 06:05am
Yes, for the sake of harmony and good will in South Asia, the two sides should do all that is needed to clear the atmosphere to move forwards in a constructive way.
Akhter Husain Sep 01, 2012 02:45pm
We must not expect any meaningful results now as the international environment is in Indian favor.But India,I am sure,will never be able to escape from these problems.
(Dr.) B.N. Anand Sep 01, 2012 09:32pm
Sir, I honestly empathize with the sentiments expressed in this Editorial. But I think Pakistan will be living in denial again if it believes that there would be movement in mutual relations without any concrete results of 26/11 trial in your country. The ice will melt once this happens. It is also correct that ours is bigger country and needs to be more flexible in it's approach to your country. But whenever this is practiced, it boomrangs immediately.lessons have been learnt very hard way by our country. I believe unless Pakistan takes care of the sensitivities seriously, such meetings will be only cosmetic in character with out achieving any thing substantial. Thanks for your very forthright views. BNA