India, Pakistan: two steps forward and four backwards?

June 19, 2009

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has dropped a plan to travel to Egypt next month where he was expected to hold further talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh following their meeting in Russia this week.

Pakistan’s foreign office has said Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani will attend the summit of Non-Aligned Nations in the Egyptian city of Sharm El Sheikh although soon after the Singh-Zardari meeting in Yekaterinburg the two sides announced plans for a second meeting in July.

Has something gone wrong?

Newspapers on both sides of the border read more into the change of plans than just a normal swap of duties between the prime minister and the president.

The Dawn linked the cancellation to displeasure over Singh telling Zardari in the full glare of the world’s media that Pakistan should not allow its soil to be used for militant attacks on India.

The soft-spoken Singh’s rather unexpected remark right at the beginning of the first-to-face encounter with Pakistan’s leaders since the Mumbai attacks in November ensured that the meeting was unpleasant from the outset, it said.

Pakistan’s The News said New Delhi had handed Zardari a “well staged slight” but Islamabad was setting it aside because at the end of the day the two sides were talking again.

Indian newspapers were less restrained, saying Zardari dropped out of the next meeting after Singh’s blunt talk and that Islamabad wanted to send the message that his rather public reprimand had not gone down well with Pakistan.

Did India over-reach then? Perhaps too much shouldn’t be read into all this. The Hindu points out that this may not yet be the last word, as Zardari has changed travel plans at the last minute several times.

At home though, they are applauding Singh both for his tough talk and the realisation that you have to engage the “imploding neighbour” because that is the neighbourhood it lives in.

Singh had served notice that India and indeed its neighbours were going to see a more determined prime minister in the months ahead, “a far cry from the man who was seemingly too timid to take on his tormentors during the previous five years,” as New Delhi’s Mint wrote.

And columnist and former ambassador Kuldip Nayar said the meeting hadn’t come a day too soon.

“Too much time and too much money have been wasted in talking against each other instead of talking to each other. The two countries have not experienced peace since independence; 62 years is a long period for the people to suffer estrangement and live in fear of war all the time,” he wrote.

Are they slipping back into talking at each other?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Media has made Everest from mole… Too much unnecessary hype has been created.

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

Pakistan need to stop LeT and other Terror org., and stop making using of them as state policy against India. They should realize that they can not blackmail india using bunch of ruffians, aslo those same people will destroy Pakistan’s social fabrik.India should accomodate Pakistan by starting talk and giving it some kind of leaverage with internal Pak audience.Solution – Valley and Muzaffarabad can be joint administered without changing borders. Rest all should be clear from this dispute.

Posted by Gus | Report as abusive

Does Zardari ever go to Pakistan ?Thats the question, he is just everywhere but not in Pakistas where he is needed most.

Posted by punjabiyaar | Report as abusive

India needs to stop human rights abuses in Indian occupied Kashmir for a start just last month 2 women were raped if this goes on another mumbai attack is bound to happen if you kill you get killed backsecondly india needs to stop focusing on containing china and pakistan in the region and stop sending terrorists into Afghanistan and sending them to attack pakistani citys like lahore unless India realises its obsession with regional dominance and occupation will only end in tears for india and indians then there is no hope for south asian peace

Posted by Billy | Report as abusive

SanjeevWho cares. Should be brushed aside as “sawp of duties”, using your expression. The focus should be on the agenda.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Billy:You are the wrong blog. In anycase can you share the source of your wrong information other than the ISPR.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

If that is true India, Pakistan: two steps forward and four backwards? one day may be in next 30 years, India and Pakistan will be one again. I think, India, Pakistan: two steps forward and two backwards seems to be more appropriate. They have done nothing in the last 60 years, making fool of people for their political interests.

Posted by Sharman | Report as abusive

What was Zardari or Gilani expecting to hear from Mr singh after 10 Pakistanis killed more than 150 people in Mumbai?Pakistanis should consider themselves lucky that India is not acting like US, Russia or China.Who controls Pakistan? Chian, Taliban or the army?

Posted by Gill | Report as abusive

If Pakistan is controlled by Non-state actors, then what is the point in talking to these so called useless state leaders?Other than wasting time, what was Zardari going to deliver anyway? Can he even step outside his bunker in Islamabad?

Posted by Gill | Report as abusive

Who is this guy Zardari? How much of Pakistan he controls?Can he step out of his bunker and go back safely?What is there to talk with irrelevants!

Posted by Gill | Report as abusive

Shying away from facts under the veil of politics – haven’t we had enough of that? Why can’t these politicians keep it simple and straight? Mr. Singh has taken a bold step by initiating a direct, no nonsense dialogue. Will Mr. Zardari have the mettle to stand up, face the realities and DO something about it before his countries implodes?

Posted by Pankaj | Report as abusive

I think the one message that Manmohan Singh got across, withoput ambiguity or doubt, is that the mood in India is different now.You cannot expect to train thugs and murderers, send them across to create mayhem, claim innocence and expect to get away with it any longer.”Did India over-reach?” In no way is this a step back. It is a new beginning. The message, for once, is crystal clear – lets talk business or not at all.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

@ Rajeevlooks like the Indian media blocks out all the human rights abuses carried out by the 700,000 troops which occur in indian occupied kashmir heres the link to the source stating the rape of the 2 women by brave indian soldiers: npress/article/ALeqM5gVeVJxaMWJezjoWCFDs BRfv2GejwToo bad Indians dont even no what goes on in there occupied land of kashmir thank god for international media or these indians would convince themselves there troops are angels terror breeds terror like it did in mumbai

Posted by Billy | Report as abusive

the talks have no future as the relation b/w LET(anti india terrorists) and isi are too strong…india should support BLA(bloach liberation army) remain prepared to attack POK and bring pok to indian union..

Posted by Raging bull | Report as abusive

Bloggers:A useful analysis by Myra “Can Pakistan take on the Lashkar-e-Taiban?”  /article/newsOne/idUSTRE55K0TO20090621

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

iNDIAN FEARS are mostly factual and minimally speculative.Action is needed not words from Bostonglobe piece. editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/06/ 17/the_other_islamist_threat_in_pakistan  /?comments=allThe other Islamist threat in PakistanBy Selig S. Harrison | June 17, 2009THE DANGER of an Islamist takeover of Pakistan is real. But it does not come from the Taliban guerrillas now battling the Pakistan Army in the Swat borderlands. It comes from a proliferating network of heavily armedIslamist militias in the Punjab heartland and major cities directed by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a close ally of Al Qaeda, which staged the terrorist attack last November in Mumbai, India.

Posted by Azad | Report as abusive

The more I think about it the more I get convinced I get, we are all living in fools paradise.Do you really expect a country to change its policy overnight? pakistan has been supporting islamic terrorists, jihadists for the last 62 years. Thier powerful insitutions ARMY/ISI/Feudal lords all need this jihad to go on.Its too well ingrained in thier system/culture to be stopped.They cant and wont change, scream yourself hoarse they will will be a terrorist nation.Can Pakistan take on the Lashkar-e-Taiban? article/newsOne/idUSTRE55K0TO20090621All we can do is wait for the inevitable to happen.

Posted by indian1127 | Report as abusive

India will achieve nothing by showing an arrogant attitude. Pakistan will simply not be intimidated by diplomatic posturing. Before Singh’s remark he was considered a statesman to some extent, not anymore. Mr. Singh will always remain under pressure from BJP and other forces in India who want a tough stance towards Pakistan.Who cares?

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Pakistan has enough on its plate now. It is busy fighting its own creation in Waziristan. I hope it does not escalate into a fight with the Afghan Taliban. That aside, there is room for improvement. India has come this far after Mumbai attacks, where Pakistani establishment has overtly displayed its lack of co-operation and sincerity. Therefore Man Mohan Singh must be appreciated for shaking hands with Zardari. If he, a mild mannered man, can sound so blunt, then the situation must be really grave.As far Kashmir, I’d like to see how Chidambaram, the Indian Home Minister handles the situation. He has promised to move the troops to the border regions and allow the local police to handle security. However, this has been tried in the past and Pakistani “non-state actors” with fire cover from their army infiltrate right away and cause havoc inside the valley. We have been through this many times.The best thing for Pakistan would be not to tick off India’s ego. Every country and individual have ego. Diplomacy should try to avoid hurting ego. The best way to achieve this is allow the Indian military for a joint effort to close down all Jihadi training camps inside Azad Kashmir. As a gesture, on the same day, both countries can move their militaries from the LoC by 100 km. Both military commanders must be in constant touch. A joint patrol unit made up of soldiers from both countries should watch this “free” zone. This should be done for about 6 months. If no insurgents are allowed inside Kashmir, life will become much better. At the same time, roads and bridges must be built across all of Kashmir allowing Kashmiris free travel across the LoC. The special privileges given to Kashmir under the Indian constitution must be abrogated. After some time UN troops or a neutral country troops must replace the militaries of both countries from all of Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan must pay for the services of this neutral military. It can be from UN or NATO or any other country agreeable to both India and Pakistan so that bias is not created. Journalists and human rights activists must be allowed to go in there and conduct their studies and create reports. Aid agencies must be sent in to build hospitals and schools. Pundits who left Kashmir must be brought back under security and allowed to take back their belongings and possessions. They must be allowed to settle in their ancestral land. Kashmir should be left like this for a long time. This way both Indians and Pakistanis will learn to live with this adjustment and will not become so emotional. Then we must hold a plebiscite. If Kashmir wants to be independent, then both India and Pakistan should help them create their own security forces and make treaties with Kashmir not to build any military alliance with either country. Peace will prevail and everyone can go back to work. Kashmir will become a buffer state between India and Pakistan and Pakistan will focus on its own issues. I feel this should be the course of action for India and Pakistan. They must make a five year plan of this kind and announce it to the whole world. If slavery could be given up, if apartheid could be removed, if Communism can collapse, India and Pakistan can surely resolve their differences. And Kashmir, IMO, definitely needs to be addressed. Let peace prevail.

Posted by Mauryan | Report as abusive

Billy: media sensored in India? he he he :) shows how little u know about India and still pass judgements ;)u r right about human right violations in Kashmir, what u arent aware s that every Indian s aware too !!! u r right about India’s obsession for dominance too.but I think Rajeev was questioning the veritability of ur umbrella (& obsviously wrong) statements like “India trying to contain Pak & China in the region” “India sending terrorists into Afgan & Pak”. every learned citizen of the world knows who exports terrorism to Afgan (& the whole world) & that terrorism in Pak is homegrown

Posted by Kayjix | Report as abusive

Billy,Have you ever heard of the phrase: PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES SHOULD NOT THROW STONES.Well in case you haven’t, here are a couple of human rights abuses from Pakistan itself:In 2002, Mukhtar Mai was gang raped as a punishment for a misdemeanour blamed on her brother. Allegedly on the order of a village council in Pakistan. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf banned her from travelling abroad because he feared her visit might “tarnish” Pakistan’s image.On March 7, 2008, Taslim was subjected to the cruellest possible ordeal. She was made to run before a pack of dogs that bit at her legs until, exhausted, she fell to the ground where they continued to maul her. She was subsequently shot by Zameer Solangi in the presence of her father in order to intimidate him. Also present were Mr. Karim Bux, who is also an uncle of the girl and a councillor in local bodies. It was due to the influence of these persons that the police took no action in the killing and land dispute.You must also not forget all the Pakistani civil servants and civilians who were murdered by the Taliban when they moved into the Swat region. The same Taliban with whom the Pakistan govt made a so-called peace deal. Except it got BROKEN when the Taliban decided to expand a little closer to Islamabad by muscling into Buner.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

Umair,-India will achieve nothing by showing an arrogant attitude.Is this the same attitude that Pakistan showed towards India with its cycle of denials with the Mumbai attacks by Pakistanis?-Pakistan will simply not be intimidated by diplomatic posturing.Intimtidated? Ofcourse it won’t. Yet this will not prevent it from continuing to beg and beg the rest of the world for more aid and debt write-offs.-Before Singh’s remark he was considered a statesman to some extent, not anymore.He is still a great statemen when compared to Zardari who never seems to be in Pakistan and is constantly travelling to beg for more money to balance the Pakistan economy. Just read “Zardari pleads for world’s help to stabilise Pakistan” (Dawn, 22/06/2009).-Mr. Singh will always remain under pressure from BJP and other forces in India who want a tough stance towards Pakistan.Mr. Singh WON the general election by a majortiy. The BJP conceded defeat. What pressure you are talking about does not exist.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

no way. just waist of time by useless leaders from both sides.2nation theory will remain alive till end of this world.2swords can not occupy one of judgement too near to posses ur actions and saying.

Posted by muhammad | Report as abusive

I do not know why people are debating so much on this stupid article. Indo Pak talks have always been futile.When has the Indo Pak talk resulted in anything good on basis of which it can be said that the further talks will result in any good?Bulletfish trying to prove “Manmohan is better than Zardari” Does it solve problems? Or if Zardari is better than Manmohan then do the problems get solved?Umair trying to project irrelevant points like “Arrogant Attitude of India”, “Pakistan will not be Intimated”. Why has Pakistan not been able to resolve the problems between India and Pakistan by let’s say most “Pure” (Pak) talks?It won’t make an iota of difference in anybody’s life on both sides if the countries talk or not talk or as Mr Nayar says “Talk with Each Other or Talk Against Each Other”.In my view citizens should not pay attention to these matters till Good Relaltions between India and Pakistan become the only prime factor. When election is fought and won only on this issue, only then we can expect normalcy in relatons.

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

It would be very silly on the part of India to resume talks with Pakistan, when the latter continues to sponsor terrorism.Instead of whining and complaining about Pak terrorism, India should be pro-active.First step in this process is recognizing the fact that “talks” are not the way to dissuade Pakistan from terrorism. Some say not talking is not an option. Since both options are ineffective why waste time in talking?Second, do not budge one bit about moving troops out of J& K.Third, continue to expose Pak terrorism at all fronts in the media and escalate the cost Pak pays for terrorism. On Mumbai attack, Pakistan planned and executed well, but Kasab getting caught undermined the whole operation. Negative publicity and diploamtic humiliation was heaped on Pakistan.Fourth, improve surveillance on Pak ISI terrorist activity.Fifth, open more consulates in Afghanistan, provide financial and logistical support to Balochi freedom struggle. No amount of lecturing has discouraged Pakistan from terrorism in India, supporting insurgies in NE India, etc.Sixth, Paks fantasized about inflicting 1000 wounds on India, but they are the ones bleeding with 1000 cuts. Pak economy is in soup, we don’t have to do much about it. Pak targeting Mumabi and Bangalore are aimed at undermining Indian economy. India should continue to focus on economy and development.

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive

Peace between Pakistan and India can be driven more by threat of repraisal than any other motive. Both the countries are not sincere in peace, though India play its diplomatic cards better than Pakistan.Westren countries support India not because it considers it at a high moral pedastal but because they want to use India to block the economic giant CHINA.India is cashing the International envirinments which has moved fast against the Muslim world after the collaspe of USSR.Lesson for Pakistan is “DONOT LOWER YOUR GUARD”

Posted by Asmat Jamal | Report as abusive

Dont quite agree with you Asmat, india has long been the victim as the world turned a blind eye towards the problem we faced due to pak sponsored terror. US infact has been very generous with pakistan so that pak does not depend on china completely for military and economic aid.But yes today nobody can ignore India. its has grown economically and has hence gained a larger voice in world diplomacy. The nuclear deal and the latest financial aid from ADB is an example of India’s position.Also the Indian Prime Minister is highly respected internationally (the G20 summit is an example)to add to that he was just re-elected prime Minister in the world’s largest democracy.after winning he had told the parliament that he will go more that half way to meet Pakistan if they showed the courage and statesmanship to ensure that pakistan soil is not used to plan or implement any teror attack in india. hence what happened in the meeting with Zardari was just what he had promised the parliament to which he is answerable as this is the norm in a true democracy

Posted by Rohit S | Report as abusive

The only solution to Kashmir is India reclaiming POK politically or militarily,not only Kashmir is a integral part of India ,all the border states should be taken up by the center with foremost importance ,which India seems to be lacking and landing up with the contoversies with the Neighbours.India has been calous from the point Pakistan had attatched Kashmir for the first time.India also lost to china .Indian military should be have more vigil on the borders as well known Indian techies can help India in this aspect by building state of the art tactical survelliance equipments and military as US has done.

Posted by Arnab | Report as abusive

I do not agree with you Rohit S… Your views are very funny, hollow and illogical. Before I start, some questionsWhat do you mean by India has Grown Economically? The statement is vague please be specific.What do you mean by Indian Prime Minister is highly respected internationally? Other leaders in G20 command less respect than Manmohan Singh and whatever Manmohan Singh says is followed?

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

Sanjeev!A MUST NEW TOPIC: REQUIRING DISCUSSION: Please see link.Pakistan massively upgrading nuclear complex, despite looming civil war.  /05/sats-show-pakistan-super-sizing-its -nuclear-weapons-complex/Is Pakistan really sincere about using U.S. taxpayer and IMF dollars to fight terrorism, while it builds nuclear weapons?How can the world sit idly by and let this happen?I think Obama and Clinton need to address this head on, in front of the world.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

Pakistan expects the Kashmir dispute to be addressed as a result of this exercise. “Both know that these objectives can be achieved only after a confidence-building exercise has created some measure of trust between them. India was keen to get action against terrorism while Pakistan wants to get back into dialogue. Both can’t do more than that because of the pressure of public opinion back home. It is intensely negative on both sides. Indians are riled over the Mumbai attacks; Pakistanis are riled over Indian interference inside Pakistan. Pakistan’s priority now is getting rid of terrorists and the war against terrorism should not be an India-Pakistan war.

Posted by Javed Ali | Report as abusive