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Pak public positive after Saarc summit

world Updated: Nov 12, 2011 01:45 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times
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There has been widespread appreciation in Pakistan over talks with India at the Saarc summit in Maldives, with many analysts saying that both prime ministers have helped open a door of optimism for the future.

“We are very hopeful after both the tone and the messages that have been seen in the talks,” said Zafar Hilaly, a foreign policy analyst. Hilaly said that it has been significant that interior minister Rehman Malik called for the hanging of Ajmal Kasab if found guilty and that foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar left no doubt about Pakistan’s decision to accord MFN status to India. “Now the issue is of implementation on both sides,” he noted.

A report in The News noted “it was all milk and honey when the prime ministers of Pakistan and India met.”

In its editorial, the paper asked the most pressing question of whether after two decades of inaction, Saarc will be able to move forward on the momentum of the improvement of relations between India and Pakistan. At the same time the paper warned that there would be disappointment if no dates were fixed on the dismantling of trade barriers in the South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region by the end of the Maldives summit.

Former ambassador Sibtain Yahya Naqvi said that there were lobbies on both sides of the border that benefitted from the lack of cooperation between the two nations. “Now it is up to the governments to make progress and push ahead despite the opposition.”

Naqvi said that aside from terrorism, there has to be more discussion now on Afghanistan, where Pakistan feels that India has long term interests that may affect Islamabad directly. “It is not easy moving forward,” he said, adding “but even what is being talked today is a good achievement.”