The meeting between Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi on the margins of the climate change conference in Paris received mixed coverage in the Pakistani media, with the mainstream Urdu media criticising it.
The English newspapers welcomed the development but some in the Urdu media suggested the meeting will help the Modi government’s “anti-Muslim agenda”.
The Urdu daily Express questioned the meeting in Paris, saying the two prime ministers should have held a proper dialogue on all outstanding issues. “The chance meeting was no chance,” said an editorial in the widely read daily.
The widely circulated Jang newspaper welcomed the meeting but hinted that “it was just a public relations exercise that served Prime Minister Modi more than it helped Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif”.
A report in the English newspaper Dawn, headlined “Sharif meets Modi: ‘exchange of courtesies’ or ‘good talks’?”, threw light on whether the leaders had “good talks” (Sharif’s version) or if the meeting was just an “exchange of courtesies” (as put by India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup).
The report from state-run Associated Press of Pakistan, used by many dailies, said Sharif and Modi had a friendly exchange and were particularly warm.
Many analysts on private news channels took a different view. Air Marshal (retired) Shahid Zulfiqar, a defence analyst, said the meeting was ill-timed as it came against the backdrop of alleged abuses against religious minorities in India.
“We should have not met him at this time. By meeting him, Sharif has endorsed all that Modi is doing,” he said.
Pakistan’s media has increasingly taken the army’s line with regard to relations with India. The army has not commented on the meeting, though quarters close to the military have been quick to criticise news of the meeting and previous meetings of the two leaders.
“The military command was not taken into confidence and this has upset them,” said another analyst, Farooq Ali.