It was a thrilling game that kept millions across the border glued to their television sets, the Pakistani media said on Thursday and counselled that the same spirit should be the resolve of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh to settle all outstanding issues. Noting that the carnival like environment prevailed at the World Cup semi- final match at Mohali which itself was an achievement, the media said it was 'diplomacy through cricket'.
The match and the highest-level diplomacy dominated the front pages of the papers in Islamabad which said that the Mohali meeting is a clear indication of Gilani and Manmohan's resolve to pursue the peace process despite hurdles in the way. Describing the meeting of the two premiers in a carnival-like environment at the World Cup semi-final venue of Mohali as "itself an achievement", the influential Dawn newspaper said in its editorial that "this get together should serve to help revive the composite dialogue so rudely shattered by the Mumbai episode."
Noting that a breakthrough was never expected, the editorial contended that "the Mohali meeting is a clear indication of the two prime ministers' resolve to pursue the peace process despite the hurdles in the way, not the least of which is the opposition from the hawks in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's cabinet to a soft line towards Pakistan, and his weakened position because of the corruption scandals".
It also said there was "a modest diplomatic gain" in that Dr Singh had accepted Gilani's invitation to visit Pakistan. "This should be a matter of satisfaction seen against the background of the mistrust that has characterised India-Pakistan ties for six decades," it added.
The News Daily, in its editorial, called on politicians to take a cue from the way people united and rooted for the Pakistani team, which "fought like brave men and lost to a better side". "The politicians should better get a cue and start working to rally the people around a cause which the people can support with similar enthusiasm and unity of purpose,"it said.
"The cricketers have proved that they are the best and now it is time for the politicians and the administrators to get their act together and provide a secure and conducive environment for world cricketers to come and play in Pakistan. This may be more difficult in these trying times than winning a World Cup," it added. However, the headlines on the front pages of newspapers reflected the gloom of Pakistani cricket fans at their teams' loss to India.
"India hold nerves to defeat Pakistan in the mother of all battles," was the banner headline in The Statesman while the Dawn headlined its report: "Cricket mania evaporates after anti-climax".
Newspapers carried reports of anguished fans returning home dejected from parks and stadiums where authorities had put up giant screens to screen Wednesday's match. Angry fans smashing television sets after Pakistan's loss while one person was killed and nearly 50 others were injured in celebratory gunfire in the southern port city of Karachi, media reports said. While the game at Mohali had brought India and Pakistan together in the spirit of sportsmanship and cricketing fever, the meeting of the home and interior secretaries of the two countries earlier this week had shown that the two sides are coordinating a counter-terrorism plan by sharing intelligence in an organised manner, the Daily Times said in its editorial.
Referring to the move to establish a "terror hotline" for real-time intelligence sharing, the editorial said, "By far, this is the furthest we have come in making any real headway in addressing the terror threat being faced by the region as a whole."
"While progress is still a long time coming on many issues of the past such as Kashmir, the real immediate problem is the struggle against terrorism. Terrorism has held the region hostage. These efforts to share intelligence and investigations will be a thorn in the side of all those forces that wish to see the two countries perpetually in conflict," the editorial said.
The Express Tribune, in its editorial, compared the talks between the home and interior secretaries to a carefully crafted game of cricket. "The talks may then have set no new records, or brought any especially flamboyant displays, but they proceeded like a carefully planned innings which starts out slowly, but could, in time, result in a century being notched up on the score-sheet by the end of the game," it observed.