Pakistan and India in key talks
Pakistani President Zardari (L) and Indian PM Singh discuss wide range of issues during a ‘fruitful’ meeting before sharing lunch. Zardari was accompanied by about 25 family members, including his son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. AFP photoPakistani President Zardari became the first Pakistani head of state since 2005 to visit India yesterday, for a one-day trip he described as “very fruitful,” as the nuclear-armed neighbors seek to normalize ties.
Zardari’s visit to India is the most visible sign that the two countries have put behind them the enmity that followed the 2008 attack in the Indian city of Mumbai, in which 10 Pakistani militants killed 166 people in India’s financial capital. The meeting has received a cautious welcome from analysts who see it as another sign of improving relations between the bitter neighbors, but the issue of Pakistani militant activity against India remains deeply problematic.
India continues to press Pakistan to prosecute the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, blamed on the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure) which was founded by hard-line Islamist Hafiz Saeed. Saeed lives openly in Pakistan, where the government says it has insufficient evidence to prosecute him, but his militant links were highlighted recently by a $10-million bounty for his arrest offered by the United States. Without giving details, the two leaders said they discussed a wide range of issues during a “fruitful” meeting before sharing lunch. Zardari insisted that the two sides should resolve their decades-old disputes over a river estuary, Siachen and Kashmir, Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said.
Tactical, pragmatic solutions
“We would like to have better relations with India. We have spoken on all topics that we could have spoken about and we are hoping to meet on Pakistani soil very soon,” Zardari said as the two men emerged from Singh’s residence. Singh said that he hoped to make his first visit to Pakistan at a convenient date. “Relations between India and Pakistan should become normal. That’s our common desire,” Singh said. “We have a number of issues and we are willing to find tactical, pragmatic solutions to all those issues. That’s the message that President Zardari and I wish to convey.” Zardari was also due to visit the shrine in western India of a revered Sufi Muslim saint, seen as a symbol of harmony between South Asia’s often competing religions.
Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.
135 FEARED DEAD IN AVALANCHE
The Pakistani military yesterday resumed desperate efforts to find survivors after an avalanche engulfed an army camp high in the mountains of Kashmir, leaving up to 135 people feared dead. The increasingly frantic search on the Siachen Glacier was called off for the night late April 7 because of darkness and poor weather. Kashmir has caused two of the three wars between India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947 from Britain.