Pak-India talks get muted response back home
01 October, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The much-awaited meeting in New York between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan on Sunday has been met with a mixed response back in their home nations, reports the Voice of America (VoA).
Critics in Pakistan, like former ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman, played down the significance of the event. She insisted that even the dates for the proposed army commanders meeting have not been announced. But Rehman stopped short of calling it a wasted opportunity.
"There were no big takeaways for broader peace initiatives. But there was a consensus on de-escalating the crisis in Kashmir, which was a dangerous spiral of violence that needed to be controlled by both sides with effective border mechanisms. These are mechanisms that really should be in place in any case. So they need to have taken this forward. So it keeps going back to the same reset," VoA quotes Rehman as saying.
In India, analysts sound a bit more optimistic, hoping that the talks lead to more regular meetings that could work to overcome the two sides' mutual deep distrust. Uday Bhaskar from the Society of Policy Studies in New Delhi is quoted as saying, "They were meeting on the sidelines (of the UN General Assembly). And in a region like South Asia, the top political leadership must meet more often and in a manner that would be deemed as 'normal' and thereby increase the comfort level of these personal interactions. I think that has been reasonably satisfied or that objective has been met. On the substantive part, the fact that both of them have now tasked their respective director general of military operations to look at the Line of Control is also a small step but I would still characterise it as a positive step."
Bhaskar says that addressing Indian security concerns has become the most important issue in talks between the two countries. Prime Minister Singh's party faces elections early next year and has been challenged by Hindu parties that favour a tougher stance against Pakistan. Sceptics say such political pressures could make engagement difficult for the Indian leader in the short term. But Sunday's meeting may have set the stage for tangible improvements in the months ahead.