The Great Debate UK
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
Given the history of India and Pakistan, it is easy to be sceptical about the chances of their latest peace initiative. So let's start with the positives.
Unlike past peace efforts which have veered between ill-prepared personal initiatives by political leaders and technical talks between bureaucrats which foundered for lack of direction from the top, the current phase combines the two. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's impromptu invitation to his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani to watch last week's India-Pakistan cricket semi-final coincided with the resumption of the first structured dialogue between the two countries since the November 2008 attacks on Mumbai. The foreign secretaries, or top diplomats, of India and Pakistan met in Thimphu, Bhutan in February. In talks last week, the home secretaries of the two countries made progress in coordinating their investigations into the Mumbai attacks; the trade secretaries are expected to meet soon, as are the defence secretaries.
Moreover, the Indian prime minister is personally committed to pursuing peace in the time he has left before a national election due by 2014. And while last year he was isolated even within his own party in his enthusiasm for peace - an idea that still lingers in some quarters - his initiative appears to enjoy the support of powerful Congress party president Sonia Gandhi. Outlook magazine, writing about his cricket diplomacy, noted that Singh was flanked by Gandhi and her son and prime-minister- in-waiting, Rahul Gandhi, when he welcomed Gilani on his first official visit to India.
The Pakistan Army, which dominates foreign and security policy in Pakistan, has also been slowly reassessing its approach to Islamist militants it once nurtured for use against India as they slip increasingly out of its control. How far that reassessment goes is open to debate; but few doubt that Gilani would have accepted Singh's invitation to India to explore peace talks had this not been endorsed by the army.
With his admission last week that Britain plays second fiddle to America, David Cameron has an opportunity to get one over Barack Obama during his much trumpeted first Prime Ministerial visit to India.
from The Great Debate (India):
By C. Uday Bhaskar
(C. Uday Bhaskar is a New Delhi-based strategic analyst. The views expressed in the column are his own)
The joint statement issued by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt on the sidelines of the NAM Summit has generated considerable comment in both countries and is being interpreted across a wide bandwidth that ranges from outright condemnation to cautious cheer.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
In the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, India's response has been to look to the United States to lean on Pakistan, which it blames for spawning Islamist militancy across the region, rather than launching any military retaliation of its own. So after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's trip to India and Pakistan last week, have the Americans done enough for now?
According to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, Rice told Pakistan there was "irrefutable evidence" that elements within the country were involved in the Mumbai attacks. And it quotes unnamed sources as saying that behind-the-scenes she “pushed the Pakistani leaders to take care of the perpetrators, otherwise the U.S. will act”.