Major American newspapers continue to welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Dec 25 visit to Pakistan, with The New York Times on Saturday saying that his meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif set a “welcome atmosphere” for the foreign secretary-level talks later this month that are aimed at resuming a stalled dialogue on critical economic and security issues.
“As they clasped hands while walking down the red carpet at the Lahore airport recently, Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan and Narendra Modi of India looked more like close friends than the leaders of two countries whose tense relations have long been a threat to regional stability,” the Times said in an editorial, titled: India and Pakistan Try Again.
As to the reasons that led the Indian leader to make the trip, The Times said, “Mr. Modi seems to have finally decided that better relations are not only necessary, but require his personal involvement. He may also have concluded that improved ties with Pakistan could help him realize his domestic ambitions, which include transforming India into an economic power. So far he has not delivered on that promise, spurring protests by middle-class Indians demanding more good jobs.
“Meanwhile, members of his government and political party have been inflaming sectarian tensions, alarming many Indians and damaging Mr Modi’s international reputation. A recent report by the Council on Foreign Relations concluded that without market reforms India risks being left behind in international trade, and that the risk of conflict with Pakistan ‘threatens to drag India down.’ The group said India should seek better relations ‘for the sake of its own future.’
Meanwhile, an editorial in the Pittsburgh-Post-Gazette also welcomed the Modi-Sharif decision to resume dialogue between the two countries.
The editorial said, “Everyone, except regional war hawks and global arms merchants, want India and Pakistan to get along. Both have nuclear weapons. They have been fighting over the disputed territory of Kashmir since the division of the subcontinent in 1947. Sporadic negotiations have taken place, but the talks always seem to break off before a more durable relationship can ensue.
“This is not to say that Mr. Modi and Mr. Sharif, acting on a personal basis, cannot improve relations. Mr. Modi phoned Mr. Sharif on Friday to wish him a happy birthday and to set up the informal drop-by in Lahore on his way back to India from Afghanistan. It was the first visit to Pakistan by an Indian prime minister since 2004. The two countries certainly have a basis for constructive talks on terrorism and trade.
Both have an interest in nearby Afghanistan. They promised to resume talks in the new year.