India and Pakistan must focus on a creative and realistic approach as they begin the long haul of normalising relations following a constructive meeting of their Foreign Secretaries, the media and analysts here said on Friday.
News reports of the coordial meeting between Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir dominated the front pages of the dailies, and the report in the influential Dawn newspaper carried the headline "It's a long haul to peace".
In its editorial, the Dawn said "not much was expected" from yesterday's meeting and "not much was offered afterwards for public consumption other than blandishments".
At the same time, it noted that it was in Pakistan's interests "to talk, and talk soon, about the 'core' issues, Kashmir, water, etc".
"Yet, diplomatic breakthroughs are not gained by sitting back and sticking to traditional demands. In Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh, Pakistan has a potential peace partner who appears willing to at least go beyond the bare minimum in the quest for peace. Creative thinking here could give the latest 'process' the necessary impetus," it said.
The Daily Times newspaper, in its editorial 'A constructive engagement', too noted that the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries was not expected to "yield any major breakthrough" as the officials had held talks to set the agenda for the Foreign Ministers' meeting to be held on July 15.
However, it said the meeting "exuded optimism and positive understanding" and the joint news briefing by the Foreign Secretaries indicated the two sides had "engaged constructively".
"At this point we must keep our expectations realistic," the editorial said.
"There is now a convergence of interests between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, because they are all afflicted in differing degrees by the same problem –terrorism. In addition to resolving their old disputes, they must focus their minds on this phenomenon, which is no respecter of boundaries," it added.
The Daily Times also noted that there was a "visible shift in the tone of India" since the SAARC summit in Bhutan in April.
"It seems that India has been persuaded to rethink the hard stance it had held post-Mumbai that without Pakistan clamping down on terrorist networks and bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice, there can be no peace process between India and Pakistan," it said.