Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Lahore has been under constant scrutiny by a variety of the media as well as the opposition parties (as usual). The fact that Modi and his entourage entered without an entry visa to Pakistan on December 25 seem to have enraged some of the local news channels, which viewed the meeting as part of some sort of a conspiracy between the heads of both countries. Not for a single second they took it as a positive gesture to strengthen deteriorating ties between the two archrivals.

Ever since the democratically elected government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz came into power, much has been said and criticised regarding PM Nawaz Sharif for not making concentrated efforts towards building bilateral ties with the neighbouring countries. This is despite his UN speech that aimed directly towards Indian interference in our internal affairs and atrocities on the border, including Kashmir.

I firmly believe in freedom of speech but criticism just for the sake of it is not going to help things get any better. For a country that has been in constant anarchy for the last 15 years, it becomes mandatory for all its institutions, including media, to promote Pakistan’s positive image. It is unfortunate that our media houses, just for the sake of cheap publicity and TRPs, are involved in propagating against the country.

Media is fully independent in Pakistan but it is important that it understands the sensitivity of the situation and must realise that it is not duty-bound to bash every single move of the government with a typical and rhetoric mind-set.

Some of the noted “analysts” seem to have forgotten that when PML-N came into power, Pakistan was in a state of crises like never before, be it terrorism or energy crisis. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the country has been able to address some of the fiercest challenges, and was moving forward on the road of progress and prosperity.

During the recent 50-minute meeting between the Indo-Pak leaders, they were firm about trying their best to maintain contact at the highest level. Tensions between the two countries seem to have smoothened by the unexpected diplomacy and personal relationships between the two leaders.

The foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India are likely to meet in Islamabad on January 15. Both the prime ministers have asked their respective foreign secretaries to design a plan for about three to six months with considerable spheres where both sides can cooperate during the upcoming meeting.

The reason for a three-month plan is that they are most likely to meet each other in Washington on March 31, when US President Barack Obama is hosting the Nuclear Security Summit.

The talks are likely to result in tangible outcomes before Modi visits Islamabad for the SAARC Summit, which we would be hosting in October-November 2016. Furthermore, the Indian foreign secretary is likely to review meetings with secretaries and departments concerned to understand the possible new areas of cooperation.

With so much in the pipeline, the government would rather appreciate the whole country to be part of the peace process. Opposition parties as well as media need to support us, at least for regional peace and a secure future for our next generations.

Modi’s unexpected visit to Pakistan was a breath of fresh air and is to be marked as one of the many achievements on Sharif’s part to portray a friendly, optimistic and welcoming image of the country.

China has welcomed the meeting and termed Modi’s visit as a positive step forward and continued its support for the two countries to enhance mutual trust through dialogue.

Indian foreign ministry has also described his visit as a mighty spark of light, where darkness prevailed before. Modi’s visit to Pakistan will make little difference to only those who are blinded by the constant efforts of the government to improve relations with India and to eradicate all the deprivations of the past.

For pragmatic growth, all institutions must help the government develop dynamic and sustainable growth, eradicate corruption, provide timely justice, enhance employment, undertake steps for population control, seek consensus-based political solutions and resolve ethnic, sectarian and religious fault lines.

It is also important for the media to be responsible and promote Pakistan in a positive and progressive way, and must not take unfair advantage of its power and privileges, which they have been enjoying due to liberal and tolerant policies of the PML-N government. Sensibility, reason and logic must prevail while taking to task any positive steps and policies of the government.

n The writer is a graduate of LUMS and currently serves as an MPA of Punjab.