Political experts see “zero outcome” in talks between Indian, Pakistani PMs

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif for over an hour on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York Sunday, amid intense political pressure at home and growing concerns over increased terror attacks emanating from across the border.

Political experts say there have been “zero outcome” of the one- to-one peace talks between the two leaders even though the overall impression was that the meeting provided an opportunity for high- level contact between the two countries which fought at least three major wars in the last 60 years over the disputed region of Kashmir.

“Singh raised the issue of terrorism emanating from Pakistani soil and asked Islamabad to do more to curb the cross-border terrorism. The Pakistani prime minister responded by telling Singh that Pakistan’s intention is to bring to book perpetrators of Mumbai terror attacks. However, nothing is going to happen as the Mumbai massacre was partly state-sponsored,” Delhi-based expert Prof Ajay Sharma said.

The Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 claimed the lives of over 170 people. Despite submitting a series of dossiers, containing evidence of Pakistan-based terror outfit’s involvement in the massacre, Islamabad has not yet taken any concrete action against those responsible for the mayhem.

The two leaders also discussed issues like ceasefire violations along the international border in Indian-controlled Kashmir, according to Indian officials.

“After over an hour of meeting, both Singh and Sharif agreed that the ceasefire along the international border must be restored. But, even before the talks began, Sharif stuck to his previous stand and did not come up with anything outside the box, harking back to self-determination in Kashmir with help from the United Nations,” said another political expert Prof Basab Roy Chowdhury.

“Peace talks between India and Pakistan have been stalled for the past two years, and Singh’s motive was that a dialogue could ease recent tensions along the border. But, as usual, nothing substantial would emerge in the long run. Pakistan-based terror outfits would continue to sneak into this side of the border under the garb of fire from Pakistani Army, and make terror attacks,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Indian media have reported about Sharif’s alleged “insulting remark” about Singh.

“A major controversy erupted on Sunday over Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif purportedly calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a ‘dehati aurat’ (village woman) during a breakfast meet with two journalists in the U.S.,” the Hindustan Times newspaper reported.

However, Sharif’s office later denied that the Pakistani premier had made any such insulting remarks against Singh.

But, that denial did not deter the country’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from exploiting the opportunity to flay Pakistan.

“No nation should be allowed to insult the Indian prime minister,” the party’s prime ministerial candidate for 2014 general elections, Narendra Modi, said at a campaign rally in the Indian capital Sunday.

The BJP had earlier urged the Indian prime minister not to hold peace talks with Pakistan, in the wake of recent deadly attacks in Kashmir by terrorists who sneaked into India from across the border.

In fact, tension between India and Pakistan has escalated sharply in recent months. In January, two Indian soldiers were killed allegedly by Pakistanis. In August, five Indian soldiers were killed in a daring ambush which allegedly involved Pakistani specialist troops. Pakistan has denied any involvement.