India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan will revive and reinvigorate ties between New Delhi and Islamabad, said a leading Pakistani daily which noted that both countries “seem prepared to learn from the mistakes and choices of the recent past”.
An editorial “India-Pakistan progress” in the Dawn on Tuesday said that first the prime ministers of Pakistan and India exchanged a few words in Paris; then their national security advisers and foreign secretaries held a joint meeting in Bangkok; and now, Sushma Swaraj will arrive in Islamabad for a regional security conference.
“What seemed impossible just weeks ago, has turned into a remarkable, almost unprecedented round of diplomacy at the very highest levels.
“The meetings must, first and foremost, be welcomed by every right-thinking Indian and Pakistani. Not talking to each other should be an unacceptable state of affairs when it comes to the two South Asian neighbours,” it said.
The daily observed that “prompted by Indian intransigence and partly reinforced by Pakistani reluctance, diplomatic engagement had eluded the two countries”.
“Instead, dangerous brinksmanship by both sides pushed the relationship towards a new low. Now, and not a moment too soon, the relationship seems set to be revived and reinvigorated. And an old truth stands validated: without a strong and bold leadership, the India-Pakistan relationship will forever remain hostage to old suspicions and hostilities.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi appear willing to try again. “What is particularly encouraging is that both sides seem prepared to learn from the mistakes and choices of the recent past.”
The daily noted that the Ufa agreement called for a meeting between the NSAs in New Delhi, but that became untenable. “Choosing a neutral venue like Bangkok allowed both sides to avoid public embarrassment.”
“…prior secrecy and the post-meeting public statement helped achieve several things: they prevented hawks on either side from scuttling the meeting; presumably allowed both sides to talk about substantive issues instead of indulging in rhetoric for domestic political consumption; and established a precedent for further meetings,” it added.
The editorial went on to say that the inclusion of references to terrorism as well as Jammu and Kashmir will presumably have satisfied both sides.
“Tensions along the Working Boundary and LoC are still unacceptably high and there has to be some major movement to re-establish both sides’ commitment to upholding the January 2003 ceasefire.”
Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad “could set the stage for a rather positive quid pro quo”.
It then asked: “The gesture that India, and the world, is seeking from Pakistan?”
“Expediting the Mumbai attack-related trials. It is a scandal that the trials in the Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court have ground to a halt. Pakistan needs to do more on that front.”