‘Political breakthrough needed to normalise Pakistan, India ties’

Islamabad, Feb 5 (IANS) Political breakthrough is required to normalise ties between Pakistan and India, said a Pakistani daily on Friday.

An editorial “Visa woes” in the News International said that the evergreen issue of the Pakistan-India visa regime hit the headlines again after Indian actor Anupam Kher alleged that he was denied a visa to attend the Karachi Literature Festival.
“Kher recently targeted and led rallies against those like actor Aamir Khan who spoke out against the rise of intolerance in India. Why someone who represents fascism would be invited to a festival meant to promote tolerance is mystifying in the first place,” said the daily.
The daily noted that “what is undeniable is that the two countries have made it unreasonably difficult to facilitate cross-border visits”.
Last month 75 pilgrims were denied a visa and “our blind cricket team also faced innumerable problems in obtaining their visas for the Asia Cup”.
“Pakistan is still being kept out of the IPL and India seems in no mood to resume bilateral sporting ties,” it said.
The editorial went on to say that the continued visa problems highlight the failure of Track-II diplomacy.
“At a time when political ties are all but suspended, the occasional overture from (Prime Minister Nawaz) Sharif and (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi notwithstanding, the purpose of Track-II diplomacy was to foster an atmosphere of understanding and cooperation through person-to-person contact.
“Instead, all such exchanges mainly take place in third countries like Thailand.”
The daily said that diplomacy, no matter which track it is traversing, still requires governments that will allow people access to each other.
“Seventeen of the 18 Indians invited to the Karachi Literature Festival have received their visas and we will get to hear Indian voices. That, however, does not mean that ties are anywhere near being normalised.
“For that to happen, we will need more than artists and sportspersons meeting each other. Political breakthroughs will be required and the power to achieve that lies in the hands of the political actors in both countries.”