Take care of India’s ties with Pakistan, daily tells Khurshid

India’s new Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid has before him the gargantuan task of not letting singular issues and events “hijack the tenuous peace process” between Pakistan and India, said a Pakistani daily Wednesday.

Salman Khurshid has replaced S.M. Krishna as India’s external affairs minister in a major ministerial revamp aimed at bolstering the ruling Congress ahead of the 2014 polls.

An editorial in the News International said that despite the recent controversy regarding accusations that Khurshid and his wife had “siphoned off funds for a charity for the disabled, the important office of foreign minister is now his, where he will have to handle the most delicate diplomatic dossier of India’s relations with Pakistan”.

Krishna had overseen the revival of the tentative peace process, which had collapsed after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and administered genuine movement on issues such as trade and visa liberalisation, said the daily.

“Khurshid now has before him the gargantuan task of carrying forward the process Krishna started – of putting all issues on the table and not letting singular issues and events hijack the tenuous peace process,” it added.

It cited some analysts as suggesting that Khurshid has a firmer grip on diplomacy and is likely to demonstrate a surer footing than his predecessor.

“However, there are also those who point to his recent mishandling of the corruption scandal, and there is serious concern whether Khurshid possesses the necessary patience and maturity to dance the delicate dance that the Indian foreign minister always has to, especially in their dealings with Pakistan,” said the editorial.

“A lot of progress has been made in the last few years, especially in terms of giving a boost to trade and cultural ties between Pakistan and India, and it is important that the momentum is kept up.”

The daily hoped that in the days to come, the two countries will, in Khurshid’s own words, “look at possible roots towards being able to work more closely together, be able to understand each other’s problems and solve each other’s problems mutually and by convergence of opinion”.

“More specifically, Khurshid must also strive to reverse the Indian establishment’s recently hardened position on low-hanging fruit such as Siachen and Sir Creek. If there is one goal he must set for himself as foreign minister, it is this,” said the editorial.

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