US media hails Indian PM Modi’s Lahore visit, sees shift in his stance

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NEW YORK, Dec 26 (APP): The American print and electronic media hailed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stopover in Lahore to meet his Pakistani counterpart Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, with The New York Times saying Saturday that the move indicated a shift on Modi’s part “to embrace engagement, not confrontation” with Pakistan.

In a report, the leading American newspaper newspaper, which quite often has criticized some of Narendra Modi’s policies, while underscoring the significance of the impromptu trip to Lahore, said the Indian leader in the past had moved from one policy to the other, and described it as “a diplomatic dance”.

“The tense relations between India and Pakistan, both nuclear-armed nations, have long worried American policy makers, who fear that proxy wars between the two countries could flare into a real one,” the Times said. “Mr. Modi is also highlighting India’s role in Afghanistan, including providing military assistance, which risks angering Pakistani leaders.

“But with his flash of spontaneous personal diplomacy on Friday, Mr. Modi appeared to send a strong public message that the ambiguous course he has taken toward Pakistan has shifted to embrace engagement, not confrontation.

It is a message that his administration has hinted at in recent weeks, seeking to sketch out a road map for talks with Pakistan on terrorism and trade.”

The news of Modi’s surprise visit came on Christmas Day when holidaying officials were spending time with their families. Still, relevant officials in Washington and New York took time out to monitor Modi’s visit to Pakistan, the  first by an Indian prime minister in more than a decade.

“After months of tension, the two countries have seen a rapid diplomatic re-engagement recently, starting with a handshake and a brief private meeting between the prime ministers on the sidelines of the Paris climate summit,” Voice of America’s Ayesha Tanzeem said in a dispatch.

The Wall Street Journal described Modi’s move as “likely to add momentum to a tentative reconciliation process” between the nuclear-armed neighbours, while The Chicago Tribune noted it as “potential sign of thawing” relations It is “the biggest surprise of all” of Modi’s diplomatic moves since he came to power on May 26, 2014 for which he had invited leaders of the South Asian countries, the Time magazine wrote.

“It’s the first trip to the country by an Indian head of state in a decade, and could be a sign of improving relations between the two neighbours,” the popular National Public Radio said.

According to The Los Angeles Times, with his Lahore visit Modi “breathed new life into a long troubled” relationship.

Some experts at think tanks and academicians also expressed their views about Modi’s Lahore visit on the social media.

“Unexpected but welcome visit” by Modi to Lahore, said Richard  Hass, president, Council on Foreign Relations, a top US think tank. There is “need to make high-level” India-Pak “diplomacy routine”, he wrote on Twitter.