Sharif-Modi Meeting: 'Hopeful' Response from Indian Media, 'Skeptical' in Pakistan

Sharif-Modi Meeting: 'Hopeful' Response from Indian Media, 'Skeptical' in Pakistan

The meeting between newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prompted a variety of responses from observers. In India, Sharif was heralded as a “gentleman,” while Pakistani media questioned Modi’s intentions and worried the meeting would lead to “more of the same.”

According to the BBC, Indian publications were “careful not to exaggerate the importance” of the meeting but open to interpreting the move as “a step towards improving strained relations between the two nations.” The Times of India wrote that it found Sharif’s acceptance of the invitation and subsequent conversation on curbing terrorism a sign that Pakistan was “serious about engagement with India.” “There were clear signals that the two neighbours are willing to make the necessary efforts,” wrote a columnist at the Deccan Chronicle, also approving of the meeting.

The BBC reports that Firstpost, an Indian media outlet, was the most positive towards the interaction. “He came like a gentleman; he talked like a statesman; and he went back home without throwing barbs at India,” a columnist at the website wrote of Sharif, describing the meeting as a “ray of hope.”

Pakistani media, Firstpost reports, appears much less willing to trust Modi than Indian media feel towards Sharif. “Modi has cleverly bought himself goodwill internationally by hosting Sharif, but did so in a way that really conceded nothing,” writes a columnist for the newspaper Dawn. “The selective leaks to the media after the prime ministerial meeting yesterday suggested that Modi stuck to a hawkish script instead of a more peaceable one,” the column continued, referring to reports that Modi discussed the elimination of terrorism on the two countries’ border.

An editorial in the newspaper The News cautioned that Modi’s “ideology remains what it is,” and that while he discussed specific concerns with Sharif, “the Pakistani PM talked of our issues only in general diplomatic terms.” “While a measure of optimism is in order for this unexpected progress, we still need to be wary of likely challenges,” including the blaming of any attack on India on the government of Pakistan, it warned.

Some Pakistani papers welcomed the talks, however. The Daily Times editorial on the meeting between the two leaders claims “with confidence” that the meeting was “a good beginning,” and praises Modi’s initiative in inviting Sharif while also making note of concerns that Modi’s past worried Muslim minorities in India. “The warm welcome PM Modi extended to Nawaz Sharif raised the hopes of the hopeful, comprising most Pakistanis, while the sceptics, including the Kashmiris, seemed unconvinced,” the paper writes.

Both leaders agreed to continue talks, with Prime Minister Sharif describing the meeting at Modi’s inauguration as an “historic moment” and reaffirming that “dialogue is the only solution.”