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Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Press praises Kashmir initiative
Indian papers
The Indian press was generally positive about the move
The Indian media has given an enthusiastic welcome to the decision to invite Pakistani ruler General Pervez Musharraf for talks and end the unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir.

The government has killed two birds with one stone.

The Times of India
But the media is uniformly surprised at what is seen as an unexpected and dramatic decision.

"Just when commentators had written off the government's Kashmir initiative, Prime Minister Vajpayee has come up with a surprise," says The Times of India.

In an article called "Giving peace another chance", the paper says the government has "followed a logical though not entirely predictable course".

It says that by inviting Musharraf for talks "the government has killed two birds with one stone".

"First, it has given new life to its peace initiative, and second it has ensured that Pakistan will not go back on its commitment to maintain maximum restraint on the Line of Control."

Shift in strategy

Another leading English-language daily, The Hindu, terms Mr Vajpayee's decision an example of "shifted strategic gears" and says "the decision to revoke the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir is reflective of the government's assessment that the assumptions with which it started the peace process have not materialised."

Indian Foreign Minister
Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh: Pointing the way forward?
The Indian Express calls the prime minister's policy a radical policy turnaround.

It says the government's unexpected "twin stroke" has but one message: "New Delhi will not take militant intransigence in the [Kashmir] valley lying down but at the same time will not abandon the search for a peaceful settlement."

Pakistani caution

In Pakistan, the media is more cautious about the latest initiative from India.

The News says India has been forced to "come to terms with the ground reality in Kashmir".

The government needs to examine the latest development from every angle

The News
"By inviting Pakistan's chief executive... India has admitted - albeit implicitly - that it cannot proceed an inch forward to resolve the Kashmir issue without involving Pakistan," it says.

"At the same time, our government needs to examine the latest development from every angle. It must ensure that talks are meaningful and substantial."

Analyst MA Niazi, writing in The Nation, says the talks invitation will be a "damp squib... if it merely ended in agreeing to 'talk about talks', as has happened in the past".

He says the Musharraf government will be making a mistake "if it sends the chief executive to Delhi in a triumphalist mood of having forced the Indians to their knees."

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See also:

24 May 01 | South Asia
Pakistan welcomes India offer
23 May 01 | South Asia
Analysis: New Kashmir peace hopes
02 Aug 00 | South Asia
Flashpoint Kashmir: Special Report
21 May 01 | South Asia
Massive protest in Kashmir
26 Apr 01 | South Asia
Kashmir separatists snub peace offer
23 Apr 01 | South Asia
Bridging the Kashmir divide
15 May 01 | South Asia
India contacts Kashmir separatist
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