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Singh's Srinagar sojourn

The Indian PM's statement at the end of the two-day Srinagar conference is seen with 'guarded optimism' in Pakistan.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 18:38 IST

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's last week's remarks at the end of a two-day roundtable conference in Srinagar provide cause for "guarded optimism".

Reason:It addresses the one issue whose resolution could bring about a dramatic improvement in ties between India and Pakistan,according to an editorial in The News.

According to the paper, the Indian Prime Minister said all the right things, including an admission that Indian security forces had committed human rights violations in the region and that his government was ready to withdraw troops "but only after acts of violence by militants cease".

Pakistan will find the last condition problematic, since its stand has been that violence on the other side of the LoC is a reaction to the heavy military presence and the human rights excesses committed by Indian security forces.

Singh also expressed his government's 'willingness' to talk to militants provided they renounce violence and this is something that the latter should ponder over, said the paper.

It further said that the announcement regarding the establishment of working groups could be fruitful provided their exact terms of reference take into consideration the views of Kashmiris of all shades of opinion, notably the parties represented by the APHC.

About the 'special status' for Jammu and Kashmir, the paper said that the Indian premier "will have to go into greater detail" because the controversial Article 370 of the Indian Constitution already recognises that the territory has a status different from the rest of India.

It said: "Specifically, he needs to explain how the new status will be dissimilar from the old one if the territory is still going to be within the Indian union.

The only caveat in this -- and a major one at that -- is that all the affected parties have to be taken along in this, and that includes not only the APHC but also the militants."