Author: Winston Esposito

PAKISTAN: Zardari Meets with Indian PM for a ‘Play Date’

This past week, President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan flew to India to meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the countries’ volatile relationship.  Tension has accumulated over the past half century, starting with the military three conflicts since independence from British rule in 1947 and the ever-present nuclear threat from both sides.  Zardari will be the first head of state to visit, as the Pakistani paper The News put it, the “arch-rival India.”. Despite a tumultuous history, President Zardari and Prime Minister Singh had positive things to say about the meeting to the media. For example, the word “fruitful” has been used in nearly every official statement made regarding the meeting.  The News however, took quite a pessimistic tack, quoting Brahma Chellaney, an analyst at New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research, as saying “You can’t have substantive talks with someone who doesn’t run anything” (meaning, of course, Zadari, seen by some as a near-powerless chief executive). On the other hand, The Dawn, another leading newspaper in Pakistan, reported that the meeting had “great diplomatic significance.”  It is reported that Zardari has invited Prime Minister Singh to Pakistan to meet again in the near future, but it has yet to be seen what will come of these arch-rival “play dates.” For more information, please visit: The Dawn The...

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PAKISTAN: Obama and Gilani at Nuclear Security Summit — Easing Tension

On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in South Korea to discuss relations between their respective countries.  How Pakistani citizens view such a meeting however, has been entirely dependent on its presentation in the media.  With added strain on the already fragile relationship between the two nations stemming from recent incidents like the NATO airstrike in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, the air between them needs clearing. This recent meeting at the Security Summit has been met with a generally positive media reception in Pakistan. Reporters from The News, one of the most prominent Pakistani papers, quoted Obama as saying, “There have been times — I think we should be candid — over the last several months where those relations have had periods of strains,” continuing that he felt positive about the Pakistani Parliament reviewing the “nature of the relationship.” The News also gave Pakistani readers a sigh of relief by dispelling the notion of any escalation of conflict between the two countries.  On the other hand, The Dawn, another widely circulated Pakistani newspaper, portraying Obama as a little more demanding, with an article titled “Obama Says Pakistan Review Must Respect Security Needs.”  Despite the more critical headline, it appears that both sides are content with a diplomatic approach. For more information, please...

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PAKISTAN: One Meeting, Two Newspapers, Multiple Versions

Earlier this month the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, chaired a meeting for the heads of all allies of his political party, the Pakistan People’s Party.  People may be left with two different impressions of how the meeting actually went depending on which Pakistani newspaper they read the following morning.   In The Dawn, one of the most prominent newspapers in Pakistan, it was reported that the meeting concluded in a “kumbaya” fashion, with both Farooq Sattar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Asfandyar Wali of the Awami National Party vowing their respective parties allegiances to Zardari and the PPP. The Dawn caught the optimism of Wali in quoting his statement: “Reconciliatory policy of the government has strengthened the democracy.”   Unfortunately, the same vibrant tone couldn’t be found in the competing Pakistani newspaper The News.  After a brief opening sentence about the parties supporting the President, the newspaper reported detail after detail regarding the disputes over who should be nominated to Deputy Chairman.  The article concluded, rather inconclusively, “Coalition partners decided that the decision would be made by President Zardari.”   There may not be big-time headline news from the meeting, yet it appears that The Dawn may be bigger fans of Zardari and the PPP than The News, which turned what had been described as an accomplished meeting into a seemingly tumultuous one. For more information, please...

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PAKISTAN: Trying to Get Its Political Act Together

On February 14, 2012 – however fleetingly — love was truly in the air in politically torn-Pakistan, although, it had nothing to do with Valentines Day. Pakistanis of all partisan stripes appeared to agree that the action of the National Assembly to make future elections as free and fair as possible was a critical step in the right direction.

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