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HindustanTimes Wed,20 Aug 2014

Prime Minister's trip to Pakistan back on agenda

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 14, 2013
First Published: 00:27 IST(14/5/2013) | Last Updated: 01:11 IST(14/5/2013)

The change of government in Pakistan has rekindled hopes of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visiting the neighbouring country.

But Singh will have to first negotiate the choppy waters of internal politics ahead of an impending general election in the country.

The PM had extended Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif an invitation to visit India while congratulating the latter on his electoral victory.

Singh has been keen on having good ties with Pakistan, though he said the right time for a trip hasn't come as such a high-level visit would require a "suitable outcome".

"There are enough indications - the positive things he said during the high-voltage election campaign about the ties and his keenness to go back to pick the threads of unfinished peace process in 1998 - to show that Sharif is keen on having good ties with India," said a government official.

But his soft spot for fundamentalist outfits, some of them anti-India, is an open secret and how far will he be able to influence the military's stance on India is something to watch out for.

In addition, the progress on core issues such as Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek remains a matter of high-level political call on both sides.

Rajiv Gandhi was the last Congress Prime Minister to visit Pakistan in 1989.

Meanwhile, the BJP blamed the PM for hurriedly inviting Sharif.

"The Prime Minister should have waited and seen if Pakistan's attitude towards India improved before inviting him here," said BJP vice president Balbir Punj.

But CPM general secretary Prakash Karat supported the move and said Singh should also visit Pakistan.


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