ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the fringes of a Russian summit drew mixed reactions from political parties on Friday with Kashmiri leaders criticising the omission of the disputed Himalayan state in the joint statement released after the meeting.
Welcoming the meeting, the Pakistan Peoples Party said the joint statement issued after such an important meeting should have reflected Pakistan’s concerns clearly and precisely.
In a statement, Senator Sherry Rehman termed the statement “one-sided”. “We welcome PM Modi to the Saarc summit and we also support PM Sharif’s peace efforts, but breakthroughs in bilateral relationships can only be achieved when concerns from both sides are successfully communicated,” she stated. “Otherwise such initiatives fall short of sustainable peace. Successful diplomacy is always about stating your case – in this case Pakistan’s concerns look as if they have been put on a collective back burner.”
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Senator Rehman added that talks between India and Pakistan had failed previously because of the same reason. “Not voicing our concerns immediately will inevitably lead to another stalemate once the contentious issues are finally put forward from our side.”
Critical of the outcome of PM Sharif’s meeting with Modi, the Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI) believed that the premier’s invitation to the Indian PM was unnecessary and “beyond the requirements of diplomatic protocol”.
Expressing disappointment over the manner in which she felt PM Nawaz “appeased India” in the meeting, PTI Vice-President Shireen Mazari criticised the premier for not highlighting the Kashmir issue and Indian involvement in Balochistan.
“Modi raised Mumbai and Sharif agreed to ‘fast track’ the investigations. Not a word on Samjhota Express was uttered by PM Sharif,” she added.
PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi also said that Kashmir should have been mentioned in the joint declaration.
Of ‘no good’
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain believes nothing good can come out of the talks between Pakistan and India as long as Modi is India’s prime minister.
Mushahid Hussain Syed, who is the Senate’s defence committee chairman, said the meeting had modest expectations and those were met. “Though these are small steps forward, they are positive for regional peace and stability,” he said. “Modi has realised his policy of trying to bully and browbeat Pakistan or trying to isolate Pakistan has failed.”
Kashmir glossed over
Kashmiri leaders, however, criticised both Modi and Nawaz for ignoring the bone of contention between the two nuclear-armed countries.
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Veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani criticised the joint statement, saying unless the dialogue between the two neighbouring countries focussed on the basic problem of Kashmir, it would neither be here nor there. “This latest announcement is going to lead us nowhere. Unless the dialogue process aims at resolution of the basic problem of Kashmir, it would not move beyond a photo session between the leaders of the two countries.”
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Yasin Malik said he was not against dialogue between India and Pakistan but four generations of Kashmiris had remained hostage to the dispute. “It is shocking that today’s joint statement by India and Pakistan does not even make a mention of this basic problem.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2015.