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Terrorism and Kashmir should be top priority: Pak media

May 13, 2010 14:16 IST

As India and Pakistan gear up for a meeting of their foreign ministers to nudge forward the bilateral peace process, the two sides will have to focus on key issues like terrorism and Kashmir and put in place new confidence-building measures, the Pakistani media has said.

While tackling the menace of terrorism is necessary to prevent another Mumbai-like incident that could stall the peace process, Pakistan needs to focus on the trial of suspects linked to the carnage in the Indian financial hub that claimed 166 lives in November 2008, leading newspapers said.

During a telephone conversation on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart S M Krishna agreed to meet in Islamabad on July 15 for talks. Their meeting will be preceded by talks between Indian Home Minister P Chidambaran and his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik and the two Foreign Secretaries on June 26.

The News daily, in its editorial "Pakistan-India talks, noted that Qureshi had said "terrorism will figure as a key issue in the talks".

It further said: "We know this is essential. If the matter is not tackled we run the risk of seeing another episode, such as that in 2008, throwing the dialogue effort into a nosedive."

"To avoid this, the question of militancy needs to be dealt with. The matter of Kashmir stands at the centre of this," it added.

The News said that while it might not be possible to immediately open talks on the Kashmir dispute, both countries "would do well to keep in mind that moving towards a resolution is essential to lasting peace. Necessary confidence-building measures may be adopted ahead of broaching the Kashmir issue, but in the final analysis it is this region which acts to generate militancy."

The influential Dawn newspaper, in an editorial titled "A fresh start?" said improving relations seems to be on the minds of both countries for the first time since the Mumbai attacks and "India and Pakistan must seize whatever opportunities that come their way to put their volatile relationship on firmer footing".

It also listed two opportunities that could set the stage for a "real breakthrough" during the meeting of the foreign ministers in July. One was the meetings between the interior ministers and foreign secretaries in June and the other was action by Pakistan "to inject new life" into the trial by an anti-terrorism court of seven suspects linked to the Mumbai attacks.

The Dawn noted that this trial "is moving desultorily, marred by countless adjournments". It added that India was "still very concerned about the relative lack of action here in Pakistan against those linked to the Mumbai attacks".

"Yes, the wheels of justice move slowly in the subcontinent, but there is a sense that concluding the trial of the Mumbai suspects is not as much a matter of concern as it should be. A more vigorous trial could go some way to ease Indian suspicions," the editorial said.

At the same time, India "needs to make some gesture which demonstrates it genuinely wants a result-oriented dialogue process, and not just endless talks about talks that produce photo-ops and little else. Perhaps India should think about concluding a deal on Siachen and Sir Creek, two issues where the bureaucrats have come close to sealing a final settlement," it added.

The Daily Times, in its editorial "Dialogue matters", acknowledged that in the wake of the conviction of Pakistani national Ajmal Amir Kasab for his role in the Mumbai attacks, the issue of terrorism "will obtain top billing" in the upcoming meeting of the Foreign Ministers.

"It is wise of Qureshi to keep repeating that any attempts by non-state actors to disrupt the peace process should not achieve their objective. "It is also very refreshing to note that our foreign minister is not entertaining any delusions about the 'uphill task' that such a dialogue is, especially when it is occurring between two historically, and mutually, suspicious neighbours.

"He has cautioned the public not to expect a resolution to Kashmir and other such prickly issues overnight, and rightly so," the daily said. It hoped that the move by Pakistan and India to bridge their trust deficit and overcome accusations will lead to mutually beneficial conclusions for both countries.

"Officially recognised as democracies, dialogue is the only way forward for both India and Pakistan as a means to usher in more civilised norms of conduct and normal relations," the newspaper said.

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