When Manmohan Singh comes to Islamabad

Pervez Hoodbhoy in the Express Tribune:

The coincidence between President Asif Ali Zardari’s sprint to Delhi last week, and the $10 million head-money on Hafiz Saeed announced by the US could be purely accidental. But this action certainly refocused Indian attention on the alleged Mumbai attack planner, who heads the pantheon of jihadi ‘heroes’ that now freely parades across Pakistan. In such circumstances, holding the olive branch before PM Manmohan Singh surely required guts. The scepticism to Zardari in India was, of course, predictable.

It is easy to pooh-pooh the visit. Mr Zardari is not a popular president or a clean one, and the PPP is unlikely to survive the elections scheduled in a few months from now. Plus, he wields no power on issues that India considers critical: nuclear weapons, Kashmir, and Afghanistan. Most importantly, he can do nothing to rein in the anti-India jihadist network, a matter that belongs squarely to the army’s domain. Moving against Hafiz Saeed is not an option. Zardari cannot forget Memogate — which he somehow survived but Ambassador Husain Haqqani did not.

And yet, a weak and embattled government did something refreshingly good for the country. According India, the MFN status for trade and related commercial activity is sure to be a game-changer that could bring peace and prosperity to the region.Ignoring the angry howls of the Difah-e-Pakistan crowd, the government for once listened to the country’s majority — most Pakistanis do want trade with India even though they consider it a threat. More:

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