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Talk,don’t chat

A register of reports and views from the Pakistan press

India’s proposal to talk about just terror in the proposed foreign secretary-level talks has kicked off a flurry of activity and intense debate on the format of the talks in Pakistan’s foreign office.

The News quoted the foreign office spokesman on February 8: “We already have an established framework and it wouldn’t be desirable to reinvent the wheel. He made it clear Pakistan was not against engagement with India but said talks for the sake of talks would have no meaning…” Caveats abound,as Dawn quoted a “senior official” as saying on February 9: “We ought to be very careful because engagement with India without any prior agreement on resumption of Composite Dialogue would not be to our advantage… The Indian invitation has nevertheless put Pakistan in a diplomatic dilemma. Accepting the offer compromises its stance on Composite Dialogue,while rejecting it may invite international pressure with world capitals perceiving Islamabad as ‘a blocker’. Describing the talks offer as a ‘bait’,an official candidly accepted ‘it had put the Foreign Ministry in a fix’.” Daily Times reported PM Yousaf Raza Gilani’s stance on February 12 : “They (India) have agreed to talk to Pakistan,but they don’t want to talk on Kashmir… Dialogue is the only way to resolve problems between civilised nations… We should wait for India’s suggestions on the resumption of the Composite Dialogue process… We should not jump to conclusions” over the outcome of the dialogue.

Spring cleaning

Lahore celebrates Basant its own way,and the festival has become controversial once again because of a debate of the dangers of kite-flying. On February 9,Daily Times reported an uproar a discussion on Basant created in the Punjab Assembly: “Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Minister Kamran Michael,informed the Assembly the provincial government couldn’t permit Basant to take place,as kite flying posed a serious threat to human life. Michael said despite the ban on the use of ‘dangerous kite-strings’,people don’t refrain from using them during the annual kite-flying event,which has resulted in the loss of several lives over the years.” Interestingly,Hassan Murtaza,a member of the Punjab Assembly belonging to the PPP,which heads federal government,opposed the ban. He argued that it should be ensured that “the centuries-old cultural activity remains a part of Punjab’s heritage”. Another member of the assembly,Sheikh Allauddin,voiced support for the ban,saying Basant was a “Hindu festival”. The report added that in an opinion poll conducted last year,about 75 per cent Lahoris favoured celebrating the festival to mark the arrival of spring.

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Young icon

Naseem Hameed won the coveted gold medal in the 100m sprint at the South Asian Games in Dhaka. Dawn wrote in an editorial on February 11. “The young athlete has not just done her country proud,she has also offered a ray of hope to Pakistani sportsmen and sportswomen struggling against heavy odds to better their performance. Above all,she stands out as a role model for the downtrodden Pakistani woman.”

First published on: 13-02-2010 at 02:16:08 am
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