Editorial - Spirit of spring - Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=38775&Cat=8

A spirit of goodwill hangs in the air, seemingly ushered in by the gentle breezes of spring. There is some hope that the ice which has kept Pakistan and India apart for so many months since the Mumbai attacks of November 2008 may finally be melting. The Pakistan Interior Secretary Chaudhry Qamar Zaman has begun talks in New Delhi with his Indian counterpart G K Pillai. The dialogue, spread over two days, will help design the setting for talks between the prime ministers of the two countries, which go ahead in Mohali before the start of the crucial semi-final encounter between Pakistan and India. Anticipation is high for both events - with issues which include Kashmir, terrorism and water disputes likely to be taken up by Mr Manmohan Singh and Mr Yusuf Raza Gilani. Matters which include Indian involvement in Balochistan will meanwhile be taken up by the secretaries.

The issues are, we can all see, ones that are not necessarily easy to solve. It may take more than a single round of talks to get anywhere at all. But what is important is that a start has been made and it is backed by good intentions. There have been various efforts to demonstrate this, with the Indian PM’s invitation to Mohali quickly accepted by Mr Gilani, even though his son will be undergoing surgery in London at the same time. Meanwhile, the Indians seem to be doing what they can to facilitate travel for Pakistanis eager to get to Mohali, while President Zardari has pitched in by granting remission to an Indian prisoner who served 27 years in a Pakistani jail. The Indian Supreme Court had advocated his release on humanitarian grounds. The omens then seem to be good and it seems clear that there is a genuine desire to get the stalled peace process back on track. Calls for this have been made by those on both sides of the border. The most important thing is that talks are beginning once more and that top leaders are involved in them. There are many issues which divide the two countries. But discussion and negotiation is the only way to solve them, even though this will necessarily take time and involve sustained efforts which continue well after the excitement at Mohali is over and the two prime ministers have returned home after their meeting in the cricket stadium.

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