The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Bilateral buddies bypass bashing

Jakarta, April 23: Yawn! India and Pakistan have again dragged their bilateral problem to a multilateral forum.

Surprise, surprise! This time there was no 'India-bashing' ' a phrase handpicked by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who usually does not try his hand at such 'undiplomatic' lingo.

'This is perhaps a rare occasion when Pakistan has not engaged in India-bashing at a multilateral forum,' Singh said this evening, referring to the camaraderie that was on display between the neighbours at the Asia-Africa summit here.

Both Pervez Musharraf and Singh carried forward the spirit of last night's banquet handshake to their speeches, affirming their commitment to peace and showing the flexibility to iron out differences.

Neither mentioned Kashmir ' a regular flashpoint between Pakistan and India on multilateral stages ' by name while addressing the conference, Musharraf last night and Singh this morning.

Singh harked back to Jawaharlal Nehru ' 'when we march in step with history, success would be ours' ' as he expressed sincerity to take forward 'the process of peace and good-neighbourly ties'.

'I appreciate the positive sentiments expressed by President Musharraf yesterday, which I fully reciprocate,' Singh said.

Musharraf had last night held aloft the outcome of his meeting with Singh in Delhi as a bilateral trophy. 'Today, Pakistan and India can be jointly proud of showing how sincerity, flexibility and courage can lead to bilateral achievement of peace and harmony,' he said.

Singh echoed Musharraf today, saying he had told the President that the 'entire world is talking about the good results' of their meeting in Delhi.

The comments reflected the compulsions on both sides. Musharraf has to convince his domestic audience he had achieved something in Delhi. India is keen not to contest that assertion because it feels that the general, rather than an unpredictable elected government, is its best bet now.

Email This Page