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Monday, 7 January, 2002, 19:44 GMT
Newspapers welcome Blair
British PM Tony Blair and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
There were hopes Mr Blair's visit would ease tensions
Newspapers in India and Pakistan on Monday put their own interpretation on events as they reviewed British Prime Minister Tony Blair's talks in Delhi on Sunday and looked ahead to his visit to Islamabad.

In Calcutta, The Telegraph observed that Mr Blair "almost endorsed the Indian view that there must be a complete rejection of terrorism by Pakistan before a 'serious dialogue' could begin".

But the newspaper also noted that India as well as Pakistan had responsibilities.


Whether or not his visit defuses the tension on the borders, militancy in Kashmir is surely going to undergo a sea change in near future

Kashmir Times

While Mr Blair "appeared to understand and even appreciate India's reluctance to resume negotiations with Pakistan", he also "gently reminded Indian leaders that the situation in the subcontinent was worrying the rest of the world", it added.

The Assam Tribune highlighted Mr Blair's call on Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf to disavow terrorism completely.

Janus-faced approach

Commenting on "Pakistan's Janus-faced approach in matters relating to terrorism", it noted the British prime minister's expression of "his firm view that terrorism cannot solve the Kashmir issue and that the two countries should sort it out peacefully".

Closer to the scene of the standoff, the Kashmir Times, published in Jammu, voiced alarm at remarks by Mr Blair in Delhi which appeared less supportive of the Indian stance.

"The British prime minister's reported comment that Pakistan has a strong position on the Kashmir issue has disturbed India," it said.


For the first time since India engaged on an extraordinary series of diplomatic and military measures, it seems the threat of war is smaller than the chances of peace

Daily Nation

"Kashmiris are closely watching the visit... Most people believe that whether or not his visit defuses the tension on the borders, militancy in Kashmir is surely going to undergo a sea change in near future," it added.

In Pakistan, The Daily Nation focused on international concern at the risk of conflict.

"Some of the tension has eased" following the brief contacts between the leaders of India and Pakistan at the weekend's regional summit in Nepal, it said.

Tony and Cherie Blair on arrival in Pakistan
The Blairs received a warm welcome

"For the first time since India engaged on an extraordinary series of diplomatic and military measures, it seems the threat of war is smaller than the chances of peace," it noted.

"With Mr Tony Blair in India and due in Pakistan today, it is expected that he will be conveying to both Pakistani and Indian leaderships his own, and more importantly, President Bush's concern that the subcontinent not get engulfed in flames".

Hopeful signs

The Frontier Post likewise saw hopeful signs and blamed India for the tension.

"What remains is for some form of gentle mediation to nudge the Indian government off the intransigent stool it perched itself on," it commented.


The British prime minister has a moral obligation to promote the resolution of the Kashmir issue, since it is the unfinished agenda of the partition

Observer

"If that can be achieved through the good offices of British Prime Minister Tony Blair... no-one should object," it continued.

"The British prime minister has supported the Pakistani stand in India and it is likely that Pakistan will seek his influence in the coalition for the peaceful and early settlement of the dispute."

The Observer, meanwhile, had harsh words for Britain, blaming Lord Mountbatten's handling of Indian partition in 1947 for the continuing dispute.

"The British prime minister has a moral obligation to promote the resolution of the Kashmir issue, since it is the unfinished agenda of the partition," it commented.

"The Kashmir issue is... Britain's legacy, because it had emerged due to the last British viceroy's immoral and unethical conduct," it alleged.

"Mr Blair should, therefore, take every initiative that may be helpful in eliminating the root cause of tension between India and Pakistan," it added.

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:

07 Jan 02 | South Asia
Blair urges Kashmir dialogue
04 Jan 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Blair enters the maelstrom
06 Jan 02 | South Asia
Blair backs anti-terror pledge
02 Jan 02 | South Asia
Blair on India peace mission
23 May 01 | South Asia
Q & A: Kashmir dispute
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