The meeting between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the SCO summit at Ufa sparked a predictable political slanging match back home in India. The ruling BJP called it a “breakthrough” while the opposition Congress questioned the rationale of the much-discussed meeting that promises to improve ties between the two estranged neighbours.
Accusing the BJP of making tall claims before the polls of teaching Pakistan a lesson, the Congress party charged that a soldier was killed in a cross- border firing and still the prime minister still went ahead and spoke to Nawaz Sharif. The opposition party demanded an explanation for the change in the circumstances that led to the PM engaging in talks with Mr Sharif, considering that New Delhi had cancelled the talks last year after the Pakistani envoy met a few Kashmiri separatists before the Foreign Secretary-level talks. The BJP, on the other hand, ridiculed the Congress’ accusation, and asserted that the talks were a success as Pakistan had finally agreed to India’s definition of terrorism by agreeing to discuss more on the 26/11 attacks and share information. The BJP termed the talks as a “breakthrough.”
Other political parties such as Omar Abdullah’s National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir said that the resumption of talks is a welcome development and hoped that it will be sustained.
While the talks in Russia, which saw Pakistan promising to expedite the trial of 26/11 accused, have been hailed as largely positive by the region, dissonant political reactions back home underline the importance of forging a broader across-the-spectrum consensus for reviving engagement with Islamabad that has yet to deliver on its anti-terror pledge.
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