'Indo-Pak talks can be solved with Manmohan Singh as executive authority': Pak columnist

Written by: Abdul Nisar
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New Delhi, July 13 (ANI): With a seasoned politician like Dr Manmohan Singh as the executive authority for India, the decades old contentious issues between India and Pakistan can be solved, says Pakistani columnist Mosharraf Zaidi.

"Pakistanis realise a golden opportunity exists during the tenure of Dr Manmohan Singh as the Indian Prime Minister for his nature of leadership. A leader like Dr Singh and former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee have the patience and wisdom to carry forward the talks," said Zaidi.

"They are not like the Narendra Modis. They carry with them the burden of Partition, and think in the context that they are the ones, who are going to bring the 63-years-old conversation to a close," he added.

Zaidi further said the conversation between India and Pakistan is going to shift with the change in the nature of leadership.

"In some ways it will get easier because that post-partition rage will disappear, but in some ways it will get harder because there is the new Indian self-confidence that has to do with the technical revolution, the massive middle class and sort of a self identification with symbols in India that are not amenable to what Pakistan represents," said Zaidi.

On the sidelines of the Foreign Secretary level talks between Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir held in Islamabad last month, Zaidi had said: " The talks between the two foreign secretaries was tremendously encouraging. There was a lot of flowery language that was on display during the talks instead of high minded flowing language about the importance of dialogue and everything that comes with it."

"The talks were held in a good environment, which sets the table for the July 15 talks brilliantly from that perspective. Let us hope there is not any kind of a reason for either side between now and then to feel that they need to behave differently," he added.

Zaidi further said the meeting between the two Foreign Ministers to be held on July 15 will take the talks between the two Asian neighbors half an inch forward.

Commenting on the element of terrorism that bedevils any effort made by the either side, Zaidi told ANI in an interview that terrorists want a compete breakdown of communication between both countries.

"Terrorists don't want Pakistan to have a voice in India or India to have a voice in Pakistan. We all have to develop a thicker skin with regard to terrorism, so that the objective of the terrorists is not matched," said Zaidi.

"Pakistan is a smaller player in terms of global conversation and is really on the defensive. The bigger sort of impact of any terrorist attack will be an attack on India, as India has in many ways demonstrated a degree of restraint to the average middle class," he added.

On India's concerns about the growing nuclear relationship between China and Pakistan, he said: "From Pakistan's perspective it is perfectly natural. Pakistan does not have the advantages India has scientifically, economically and technologically. Pakistan does not have the advantage of the global narrative. The national security narratives of the different countries in the West really favour India in many ways."

"Pakistan has made a lot of mistakes in the past that it is trying to fix now. So the pressure of all these kinds of possibilities leads Pakistan into a corner, where it has only a limited number of options in terms of exploring civil nuclear power, energy and power generation, military hardware and things like that," he added.

Zaidi further said China is really in the start and end of that conversation.

"The emergence of India as an increasingly important country in the West has the almost automatic consequence of Pakistan pushing closer to China," he claimed.

On the expansion of nuclear cooperation at a time when Taliban is stepping its foot in Pakistan, Zaidi said, "I think Pakistan is making efforts to control the Taliban and that phenomenon of extreme violent extremism in the country. India knows about the difficulty for it is facing similar problems in terms of the insurgency in India."

"Pakistan hasn't had accidental exposures of any kind and its nuclear safety is as safe as any other country. It has been certified by the US Government. We need to move beyond nuclear exposure," he added.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will visit Pakistan from July 14 to 16 to work out the modalities of "restoring trust and confidence" in the relationship, thus paving the way for a "substantive dialogue" on issues of mutual concern.

Krishna is visiting Pakistan at the invitation of Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan's Foreign Minister. (ANI)

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