Islamabad, Apr 9: President Asif Ali Zardari's “private spiritual journey” to India ended with “a tame nudge” from the hosts who asked him to “work more to win their love,” Pakistani media said today, noting that the visit should set the stage for the two sides to tackle contentious issues like the 26/11 probe.
Photographs of a smiling Zardari shaking hands with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh adorned the front pages of all Pakistani dailies.
Reports of the President's meeting with Singh during his day-long trip to India yesterday noted that the Indian leader had accepted his invitation to visit Pakistan as well as New Delhi's call for more action against terrorists based on the Pakistani soil.
“Under JuD's shadow, Singh accepts Pakistan invitation,” read the headline in The Express Tribune, while the influential Dawn newspaper headlined its report: “Work to win love, Zardari told in Delhi.”
The Dawn, in its report on Zardari's visit, said the President “enjoyed a sumptuous lunch... with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before offering prayers at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer, but his day-long officially ‘private' visit to India ended with a tame nudge from the hosts who effectively asked him...to work more to win their love.”
The Express Tribune said in its report that Singh had accepted Zardari's invitation to visit Pakistan while renewing New Delhi's demand that “Islamabad prosecute the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai siege - a clear reference to Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed.”
The News, in an editorial titled “A ‘private' visit,” noted that this was the first visit by a Pakistani head of state to India in seven years and said it was not easy to arrange meetings between the two countries, whose leaders usually hold talks on the margins of international diplomatic events.
“This visit, although it was not explicitly stated, was about consolidating the confidence building measures that have been cautiously embarked upon by the business communities of both states in the last year,” the editorial said, referring to Pakistan's plans to give India Most Favoured Nation-status by next year.
“Both India and Pakistan could benefit mutually from enhanced trade; we have much to sell to one another. A reciprocal, but probably not private, visit by Manmohan Singh should be in the near rather than the far future if momentum is to be maintained,” it said.
The News and Pakistan Today, in their editorials, noted the criticism within Pakistan of the expenses on the visit by Zardari, who was accompanied by a sizeable entourage that included his son and Pakistan People's Party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who does not enjoy any state position.
The size of the Presidential delegation and the cost of transporting it had led some to question whether the visit was really a “private” one, the dailies said.
The Daily Times, in an editorial titled “A spiritual journey,” said Zardari's visit should now set the stage for the two countries to tackle contentious issues like the probe into the Mumbai attacks and the sharing of river waters.
Pakistan Today, The Express Tribune and Daily Times noted that an avalanche had buried 135 people, including 124 Pakistani soldiers, on the Siachen glacier on the eve of Zardari's visit and called for steps to de-militarise the world's highest and coldest battlefield.