PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif has expressed support for President Asif Zardari’s visit to India, and has supported good neighbourly ties with it. While talking to the media at the residence of Afzal Khokhar he visited on Monday, where he made this expression of bipartisan support, adding further that had former President Pervez Musharraf not derailed the peace process, all outstanding issues including Kashmir would have been resolved. True, Mian Nawaz intensely dislikes General Musharraf for having toppled his government, but that does not mean he should violate facts. The failure of Mian Nawaz’s initiative was not because of General Musharraf, but because of Indian insincerity, particularly its reluctance to vacate its illegal occupation of Kashmir, but because it views negotiations merely as a means to grab hold of advantages over its neighbours, which will only serve to further its own neo-imperialistic and hegemonic designs. The latest case in point, which Mian Nawaz did not mention, is the grant of MFN status to India. Now that is the sort of issue which India wants to take up, which will benefit Indian ambitions on the one hand, and which will also destroy what little is left of Pakistan’s industry after the prevalent chronic loadshedding. It must not be forgotten that India wants Pakistani industry destroyed so that there is no competition for its own.

The USA expressed satisfaction at the talks taking place, in the State Department spokesperson’s statement saying that it hoped more such contacts would take place in future. It must not be forgotten that no other country in the world has expressed anything about them, presumably because they were purely bilateral. The US’ support of India as a regional counterweight against China cannot be forgotten, and because of that, it is expected that the Indians will benefit from their backing in all disputes.

Mian Nawaz said that he too was a cricketer, and wanted the chance of ‘playing cricket’. His cloying and desperate attempts to posture himself into place as a friend of the Indians are unworthy of a man who is leader of one of the largest political parties in the country. As long as Kashmir is avoided, all talks will be welcomed. But not by Pakistan. Talks must start with Kashmir as a top priority. That is Pakistan’s demand.