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Millennium Post

Pak media upbeat on Krishna visit; irritants remain

If the reporting in the Pakistani media on External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's visit is any indication, a lot of expectations, rightly or wrongly, have been raised regarding the future of the India and Pakistan relationship, including the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Pakistan.

Even though both countries have made a small, but significant and positive, beginning by signing the new visa pact that will make it easier for common people to visit each other's country, irritants over core issues like terrorism, especially emanating from Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek remain.

Most of the Pakistan media, print and electronic, played up the fact that both countries had agreed to leave the past behind and move ahead in their relationship. Krishna's three-day visit, which ended Sunday, was being seen as another routine exercise by the same media here but suddenly became significant as the visa pact was signed and the talks conveyed the feeling that things had changed between both sides.

At a joint press conference with Krishna in Islamabad Saturday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar boldly stated that both sides should 'not let the relationship to be held hostage to the past'.

Krishna too, echoed the sentiment and said: 'Let us not look back. Let us not be held hostage to whatever happened in the past.'

This led to some confusion, especially in the Pakistan establishment and media, who thought that India had moved ahead from its stated position on the Mumbai terror attack.

Except for leading English daily Dawn, which clearly stated that the core issues continued to haunt both countries, most newspapers projected the stance that India had finally given up on its 'hardline' stand on action in the Mumbai terror attack case and was ready to move ahead by burying the 'bitter past'.

Within a couple of hours, Krishna was again addressing the big Indian media delegation, which had gone with him, to clarify that the statement did not mean that India had given up its insistence that Pakistan-based perpetrators of the conspiracy behind the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, in which 166 people were killed by 10 Pakistani terrorists in 2008, be punished.

'Mumbai is very much on the table. India is not going back on that. They (Pakistan) will have to take follow-up action...there is no question of bypassing 26/11,' Krishna maintained.

Krishna, 80, had described his visit this time as 'much better than what was two years back'.
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