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New Nawaz Sharif avatar gives guarded hope to India

world Updated: Oct 01, 2013 03:08 IST
Varghese K George
Nawaz Sharif

An uncharacteristically diligent and tactful Nawaz Sharif has given guarded hope to India in Pakistan’s resolve to put an end to LoC tensions and take action against the Mumbai terror accused.

A day after the heads of the two nuclear nations promised to take steps towards peace and tasked their directors general of military operations (DGMO) to look into LoC ceasefire violations, a senior Pakistani diplomat on Monday said that the DGMOs would meet “well within this week.” An affirmation that the army would support PM Nawaz Sharif’s peace efforts.

The Pakistani diplomat also said the trial of Mumbai terror accused will start soon and move fast, “though we may not be able to do daily hearings.”

What is giving India hope – however muted – is the fact that Sharif is much more diligent and tactful this time around compared to his characteristic flamboyance.

During the meeting, Sharif didn’t merely react but went through notes – two different sets in fact – before making his points and responding to Singh.

An Indian official who has seen Sharif at several Indo-Pak summits in 1990s with I K Gujral and A B Vajpayee said, “He is more careful and giving much more attention to details.”

Sharif, who blames his ouster in an army coup in 1999 on the peace efforts he started with Vajpayee, is now more careful in his efforts. In a meeting with the Pakistani-American community a day before meeting with Singh, Sharif said he would make sure all major players in Pakistan are on board.

And in a candid statement said that if the entire world is blaming Pakistan, there must be something that needs fixing.

Overall, in his new avatar, Sharif is aware that peace efforts with India requires much better management of his own domestic politics – a point that the Pakistani diplomat also agreed to.

Preferring to have their five-member delegations with them during the bilateral meet, PM Manmohan Singh was forceful in bringing home the point to Sharif that LoC tensions must ease and Mumbai terror accused brought to book before tacking other issues.

Though the Pak PM had talked about self-determination for Kashmir in his UN speech, the issue did not come up in the meeting – giving more comfort to India. Singh’s original draft of his UN speech had no reference to Kashmir, and was redrafted after Sharif raised the issue in UNGA. Singh told the UNGA that while India is willing to discuss Kashmir, it can only be within the ambit of the Shimla Accord and that the state is an integral part of India.