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Pakistani Press Skeptical of Kashmir Talks

Pakistani newspapers on Monday welcomed the upbeat outcome of a weekend summit between South Asia's nuclear rivals, but voiced suspicions that India wasn't ready to compromise on the core dispute over divided Kashmir (search).

The meetings between Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf (search) and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (search) in New Delhi dominated the front pages — trumping even Pakistan's thumping victory against India at cricket in a match that was watched by the two leaders.

"Musharraf and Manmohan push forward peace process," said the banner headline in the Daily Times. "Delhi talks move forward," said The News.

The two leaders said the peace process begun in 2003 was now "irreversible" and announced increased travel across the militarized border in Kashmir and more trade and business ties between the two nations. They also agreed to continue talks on Kashmir.

Editorials in Pakistan focussed on Islamabad's willingness to agree to confidence-building measures amid continued recalcitrance from New Delhi on the issue of Kashmir — the Himalayan region divided between the two countries and claimed by both.

"India has throughout maintained its historic stand that there can be no revision of boundaries," said The Nation daily. "Meanwhile, Pakistan has stopped speaking of its own principled stand ... and made increasing references to 'flexibility' and 'thinking outside the box."'

Hardline Urdu-language daily Nawa-e-Waqt lashed out at Musharraf for suggesting in an interview that Islamabad's long-standing demand that Muslim-majority Kashmir revert in its entirety to Pakistan could be relinquished in favor of the region becoming an independent state.

"The admission by the president of Pakistan of the existence of the option of independence for Kashmir is like hitting one's own legs with an ax and stepping back from our own just stand."

But Daily Times said that the normalization process was working for Pakistan, improving the country's standing in the world community and giving it more space to focus on its internal problems.

"The right thing for President Musharraf is to hold fast to the Kashmir stance — with the promise to think out of the box — and move ahead on the confidence-building measures," it said.