Pakistani leader in 'friendly' talks on visit to India

 

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder: "Relations between India and Pakistan have never really recovered after the 2008 Mumbai attacks"

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The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, has held "friendly" talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a rare visit to India.

"We would like to have better relations," Mr Zardari said after private talks with Mr Singh in Delhi.

The Indian leader said they shared a desire for "normal" relations between their countries.

It was the first visit to India by a Pakistani head of state in seven years. The two men last met in 2009 in Russia.

Mr Singh said he had accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan as soon as mutually acceptable dates were worked out.

Mr Zardari later departed for a visit to a Muslim shrine in Ajmer, 350km (220 miles) south-west of the Indian capital.

The shrine in Ajmer is dedicated to a Sufi saint, Moinudin Chishti, and is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the region, receiving a constant flow of devotees.

Militant issue

While the two leaders were meeting for lunch in private, a wide range of issues is said to have been discussed.

Analysis

Such is the state of relations between South Asia's two long-standing rivals that even a private visit by the Pakistani president to India can create a flutter.

Both leaders said they were very satisfied with their exchange. Nothing much was expected and nothing substantial emerged but the Pakistani president invited Mr Singh to visit his country.

The Indian prime minister said he would be happy to accept although it is not clear when he plans to go.

The two sides still have major political differences over the disputed region of Kashmir and the 2008 Mumbai attacks. India believes Pakistan is protecting those who plotted them. But in the past few months the two sides have made progress in improving trade links and many are hoping that political improvement can follow.

According to India's NDTV news channel, the two leaders agreed that their home secretaries would meet soon to discuss the issue of Hafiz Saeed, head of the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Mr Saeed is accused of masterminding the 2008 militant attacks on Mumbai and Washington has announced a $10m (£6.3m) bounty for his arrest.

India says it has given Pakistan enough evidence to prosecute him but Pakistan says it needs "concrete evidence" before it can launch any legal proceedings.

India also reportedly offered to help Pakistan in its efforts to rescue dozens of people still buried under snow after a massive avalanche engulfed an army camp on the Siachen Glacier in the Himalayas.

Relations between the two countries have been gradually improving since peace talks were derailed after the Mumbai attacks.

Mr Zardari recently backed the lifting of trade restrictions on India, and Pakistan is also talking of dropping a restrictive list of what products it will buy from India.

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 86.

    The gravity of tension between India and Pakistan is only as serious as the rest of the world takes it. If they were completely ignored, including little or low-key media coverage, the Kashmir dispute would not matter much. As it is it is about each country fighting to keep its ego inflated in the global publicity platform.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 63.

    Any contact between the leaders of India & Pakistan, official or otherwise, can only be a good thing. It may be a long way before resolving Kashmir or any cross border pot-shots, but both govts must continue negotiating, not least for affected inhabitants. Pakistan has major internal issues such as ISI and tribal autonomies to handle, it'll be a long road ahead, patience is needed.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 58.

    This meeting is a crucial step forward and could augur better tidings. Sticking to cooperation and trade issues would focus minds on what is really essential. Here are two Asian giants on a very important mission! Putting contentious issues behind and working pragmatically towards the future. Just think of the huge rewards! The two nations could consequently break the stale-mate. A very wise move!

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 16.

    Hats off to Zardari for the Initiative and Singh for Hospitality!

    Things need to move on from 1947 or this region will never be a consitent player in the Global Affairs!

    After Trade...the two countries should sort out their disputes including, Water Treaty and Terretorial Issues!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 12.

    Full blown trade between Pakistan and India should be on top of any agenda between the heads of the two states. Once this is achieved everything else will follow.

 
 

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