Indian media: 'Ray of hope' as Modi meets Sharif

The Sharif-Modi meeting, a "clear signal" that the two countries are willing to resume dialogue The Sharif-Modi meeting is a "clear signal" that the two countries are willing to resume dialogue

Media are careful not to exaggerate the importance of a meeting between the leaders of India and Pakistan, held in Delhi on Tuesday after the Pakistani premier, Nawaz Sharif, attended the swearing-in ceremony of India's new PM Narendra Modi the previous day.

Most commentators, however, hail the get-together as a step towards improving strained relations between the two nations.

"Modi told Sharif that terror sourced in Pakistan had to end" and that Islamabad has to speed up the trial of the 2008 Mumbai attacks suspects "to prove it was serious about engagement with India," The Times of India reports.

That is why, the Indian PM has accepted his guest's invitation to visit Pakistan but has made no commitment on Islamabad's call for resuming the stalled dialogue between the two countries "on all issues, including Kashmir", The Hindu explains.

For the Deccan Chronicle, despite the "tough talk on terror", at the end of the meeting, "there were clear signals that the two neighbours are willing to make the necessary efforts" to get the two countries talking to each other again.

The Pioneer is also optimistic. It explains in an editorial that the meeting has "brought the two leaders on the same page" and "has injected positive energy into the India-Pakistan relationship".

The Firstpost website is full of praise for the Pakistani prime minister. "He came like a gentleman; he talked like a statesman; and he went back home without throwing barbs at India," writes Rajeev Sharma, adding that "the Modi-Sharif meet is a ray of hope". Nevertheless, he adds that now "everything will depend on the Pakistan army and how the Pakistani military leadership assesses Sharif's India visit".

"If Sharif proves unable to deliver, at some point down the line Modi should open a direct line of communication with the Pakistan army," advises The Times of India.

'Real test' for cabinet

Newspapers continue to analyse PM Narendra Modi's "trimmed" government. He will be in charge of a smaller cabinet of 45 members compared to the 71 that were serving under his predecessor.

The Indian Express says that the council of ministers "includes some unexpected choices that suggest Modi is prepared to take risks for potential big payoffs". "By and large, Modi's cabinet choices are a job well begun," the paper concludes.

"Narendra Modi has ushered in significant changes in administration, dismantling existing structures by merging key ministries in an attempt to bring in more synergy in governance, negate contradictory approaches among departments and make decision-making more efficient… The real test, however, will be in proof of delivery of the concept", says The Hindustan Times.

Writing in the Business Standard, columnist AK Bhattacharya begs to differ. "The compulsions of keeping the party leaders and alliance partners happy took precedence over the goal of rationalising ministries that over the years had become oversized and unwieldy," he argues.

Train safety

Media are focusing on the issue of railway safety in the wake of the train accident in northern Uttar Pradesh state on 26 May that killed 25 people.

The accident "is an alarm bell for new railway minister DV Sadanand Gowda to take up the issue of railway safety on a war footing," says The Indian Express.

"It is indeed in this regard that the new government will have to bring about a perceptible change… The new minister for railways is a competent person; he must set the ball rolling," adds The Pioneer.

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