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
    0

    Comment number 18.

    I would rather live in India. Why did the previous commentator express surprise that the bbc have allowed comments?

    I really hope India and Pakistan can make peace. India is the great hope for the free world and can protect Western values from Chinese hegemony. When I say Western values I mean our relative freedom of speech and religious practice.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 17.

    India doesn't really need Pakistan - Pakistan needs India. With India forging ahead - perhaps they could learn a thing or two, or get left behind and continue the next few the decades in the same vain they have the last. ps. Perhaps it's time for Imran Khan for Pakistan.

  • 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
    0

    Comment number 15.

    4. “India does not warmonger” not 100% accurate. Before 9/11 Afghanistan was used as a proxy war between India and Pakistan. India sent aid and weapons to some of the pro-democracy/relatively secular elements within the northern Alliance. While Pakistan sent aid and even troops to the Taliban. It’s just India is more subtle than Pakistan/UK/USA/Russia/France etc in it’s involvement in wars

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 14.

    It would have been far better if he'd gone to a Hindu or Sikh shrine.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 13.

    You'd imagine that two democratic nations, who have throw off the common yokes of colonialism, might find more common ground than not, given the international pressures on resources and the advantages of regional co-operation.
    Pakistan and India must have common ground on a whole host of matters, two secular, modern and wealthy states should have little to fear from each other.

  • 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.

  • rate this
    +15

    Comment number 11.

    We will see broadly two type of reactions from people of both countries. Right wing organisations in Pakistan will accuse Zardari of selling the blood of oppressed Kashmiris, whereas right wing groups in India will blame Manmohan Singh of succumbing to ISI terrorism. Many like me are hoping that leaders will show maturity to engage for welfare of the largest number of poor people in the world.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 10.

    They need better relations!

    Since they are the two countries who are most at risk of a nuclear war......

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 9.

    Kashmir will forever be disputed, unless they can share, and be the first two nations to share a land. They could fashion the districts to look like a kashmir pattern on the map.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 8.

    Pakistan are always going to have a massive, more powerful neighbour, so they might as well get used to it, especially since the American subsidies won't last forever.
    They should get it early and start with the old 'special relationship' spin.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 6.

    I hope these are the first small steps of a long, worthy journey and wish Pakistan and India Godspeed in developing a better relationship.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 5.

    Anything to try & reduce tension & mae the world a safer place is be welcomed - good luck to both parties, here's hoping they can realise they have more in common than they do in differences.....

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    I will have to disagree with post 1 on some points. India has turned back 'aid' from the UK. It does not need aid from a country which is economically weaker than it. Moreover, India does not warmonger or commit international terrorism. But I will agree with post 1 that these countries need to sort our their differences, with zero international intervention.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 2.

    At 1: With an attitude like that, i'm surprised they are talking at all.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1.

    These two countries should be able to sort out their own differences. After all they are both nuke powers, spend a lot of their GDP on defence and warmongering and receive masses of corrupt "aid" from the UK

 

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