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Sunday, 6 January, 2002, 14:05 GMT
Press spins Blair visit
Tony and Cherie Blair in Bangalore
The Blairs dress up for dinner
Most Indian and Pakistani newspapers on Sunday restricted themselves to factual reporting of Tony Blair's visit to India, which began on Friday.

Some however did choose to highlight aspects that reflected the priorities of their national politics.

Mr Blair is endorsing India's stand on terrorism

The Times of India
The Times of India gave an upbeat assessment to Mr Blair's visit so far by concentrating on his perceived support for India's stance on Kashmiri militants.

In a speech in Bangalore on Saturday, Mr Blair said there was no place in a civilised society for militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, and expressed "total solidarity" with India in the face of the 13 December attack on its parliament.

The paper saw Mr Blair as "endorsing India's stand", which is that the US-led war on terrorism must judge Kashmiri groups as harshly as Al-Qaeda and the Taleban, and that there can be no dialogue with Pakistan until it takes action against those whom India accuses of attacking its parliament.

Mr Blair's diatribe has made the Hurriyat Conference ecstatic

The Deccan Herald, Bangalore
The paper also noted approvingly how Mr Blair had said Britain supported a permanent UN Security Council seat for India, and that bilateral relations were "on an upswing".

Blair's "diatribe"

The Deccan Herald in Bangalore took a far more critical line, saying Mr Blair's remark that Pakistan had a strong case over Kashmir had made the separatist Hurriyat Conference of Kashmir "ecstatic".

Calling Mr Blair's comments a "diatribe", it said his call for dialogue between India and Pakistan matched the demand of the Hurriyat Conference for a ceasefire and talks on the status of Kashmir.

It quoted Hurriyat Conference Chairman Professor Ghani Bhat as saying: "The focus has now shifted to Kashmir, and the international community has realised that, unless the Kashmir issue is addressed, peace cannot be restored in the subcontinent."

'Melt Vajpayee's heart'

Pakistani newspapers in general emphasised Mr Blair's comments on the strength of Pakistan's case over Kashmir.

Tony Blair's burden is to... melt the hardened heart of an angry Vajpayee

The News, Islamabad
The newspaper, The News, concentrated on what it saw as Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's rebuff to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's "hand of friendship" at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) meeting in Kathmandu.

It saw Mr Blair's role as being to persuade India to pull back from the threat of war against Pakistan.

"Musharraf's gesture was a PR coup, no doubt. But it failed to melt the hardened heart of an angry Vajpayee. It now is Tony Blair's burden to make the next move to soften it."

'To hell with' Mr Blair

The Pakistan newspaper in Islamabad was more forthright in its 2nd January preview of the visit.

In a commentary entitled "To hell with", Zahid Jhangvi said Mr Blair has no status of his own "as Britain is a spent force", and so has started to play the role of a "subordinate for the United States".

Tony has assumed the role of a postman for Bush. Where 'Bush the Great' cannot go by himself, he sends Tony Blair.

Pakistan newspaper

He said Mr Blair's visit to Pakistan at the height of the Afghan crisis had led to Islamabad's accepting a "number of demands against our Taleban brothers".

"Tony has assumed the role of a postman for Bush. Where 'Bush the Great' cannot go by himself, he sends Tony Blair."

Mr Jhangvi compared British "subordination" to the United States to the way the elites of British India had tried to please British imperial rulers.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

06 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Blair to urge Kashmir diplomacy
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