WASHINGTON - Most American newspapers on Monday carried dispatches welcoming President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to India, with The Washington Post saying that it reflected Pakistan’s civilian leaders’ determination “to wrest a measure of foreign policy decision-making power from the nation’s military”.“As a matter of course, Pakistan’s Army and intelligence services paint India as an existential enemy always poised to strike,” the newspaper said in a dispatch from New Delhi. Citing critics, the dispatch said it was a tactic “to ensure that the military’s influence and huge budget are not questioned”.Noting that India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, the Post said they have failed to resolve differences on the central dispute of Kashmir. “But Zardari’s visit to India — the first by a Pakistani head of state in seven years — comes at a time when Pakistan’s civilian and elected leaders seem determined to wrest a measure of foreign policy decision-making power from the nation’s military,” the Post wrote.“After their meeting, Zardari and (Indian Prime Minister Manmohan) Singh called for an overall better relationship between the nuclear-armed neighbours, while not disclosing specifics,” the newspaper noted.Most newspapers said the visit would lead to improved relations between the South Asian rivals. “In the past year, both nations have been trying to encourage what has come to be known in the Indian capital as ‘soft diplomacy’ — easing trade restrictions, cooperating on cultural exchanges and bonding over cricket, a sport loved by Pakistanis and Indians,” The Washington Post said. “If nothing else, Zardari’s pilgrimage to the marble-domed Sufi shrine in Ajmer, a town in the western state of Rajasthan, sent a message against extremism,” the paper said.Suicide bombers in Pakistan have repeatedly targeted worshippers at the graves of Sufi saints in a campaign to forward militants’ views that the sites violate Islamic tenets, it noted.Noting that Prime Minister has accepted President Zardari’s invitation to visit Pakistan, The New York Times said, “Since taking office nearly eight years ago, he has often voiced a desire to visit Pakistan, but he has yet to make the trip, either because of political considerations at home or because of fraught relations between the countries.”“No breakthroughs were announced, but both sides hailed the meeting as a sign of easing tensions along one of the world’s most dangerous borders,” The Los Angeles Times reported in a news dispatch from New Delhi. “Sunday’s one-day visit was heavy on symbolism if not on substance,” the newspaper said.“It is a bold statement by Pakistan’s President Zardari to come to this shrine at a time when there are fears of hard-liners taking over everywhere,” Salim Mahajan, an Indian activist for Sufism, was quoted as saying. “It is a good signal he is sending about the tolerant and assimilative form of Islam,” he added. India and Pakistan this year approved a most-favoured-nation agreement, lowering taxes that impede trade, the US `media noted. THe Wall Street Journal wrote, “Sunday’s visit was heavy on symbolism if not on substance. Zardari invited Singh for a reciprocal visit to Pakistan, which the Indian leader accepted, although no date was set. Zardari’s 23-year-old son, Bilawal, invited ruling Congress Party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi to Pakistan, which was also accepted, again with no date set.”