Barack Obama's India visit a big development: Pakistani daily

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Islamabad, Jan 25: US President Barack Obama's visit to India for the country's Republic Day celebrations is a "big development" and Islamabad must "ensure it does not suffer as a new era of US-India relations gets underway", even though "there is an element of playing to the gallery" involved in such visits, leading Pakistani dailies said on Sunday.

Barack Obama's India visit a big development
"Obama's arrival in India in connection with the Republic Day celebrations is a big development," the Daily Times said in an editorial.

"A triangular conundrum exists among Pakistan, India and the US. It is the policy of the US to build friendly relations with both India and Pakistan, and not with one at the expense of the other. During the ongoing recession, the huge potential of the Indian economy has become vital for the US."

It said that India is potentially a very big market for the US, whose economy could be lifted out of the doldrums through the sale of weapons to India.

The daily added the US considers India a possible counterweight to China in the region.

"With regards to Pakistan, the trust deficit between the US and Pakistan due the duality of policies of Pakistan in the past, which still causes suspicion, despite a belated crackdown against militants, stated now to be irrespective of 'good' Taliban and 'bad' Taliban and their supporters."

The Pakistan government is still unsure how to deal with elements that support the Taliban, the newspaper said.

It, however, added that the US knows the difficulties of Pakistan and it has understood terrorism cannot be eliminated through a military crackdown only and that is why Washington has not discontinued its aid programme for Islamabad despite hostile opposition from the Republican-dominated US Congress.

Another leading Pakistani daily, The News, said the agenda Obama's visit will be primarily economic.

"India is currently in a battle with China to be the primary regional power and any signs that the US is decisively shifting towards it will not be taken too well in Beijing," it said.

The editorial said that for Pakistan the worry may be that greater economic cooperation will automatically be followed by further political cooperation, leaving Pakistan out in the cold.

Pakistan has to keep making its own case as loudly and forcefully as it can to ensure it does not suffer as a new era of US-India relations gets underway, it added.

"To be sure, there is an element of playing to the gallery involved in all such visits," Dawn editorial said.

"Indian officialdom and its relatively nationalist media will likely try and elicit further comments on Pakistan from Obama and other American officials that can be used by India to portray Pakistan in an even more negative manner."

The newspaper said, Pakistan and India need to get out of this habit of incessant, meaningless competition: "if Obama goes to India, that is India's business when Obama visits Pakistan, that should be Pakistan's bilateral matter."

Perhaps the only thing that should be remembered, or even reiterated publicly, is that dialogue between Pakistan and India needs to restart, the daily noted.

IANS

There are several major and legitimate concerns on both sides, and, regardless of the state of relations with India, Pakistan's foremost concern is to win the fight against militancy domestically, it added.

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