Indian media: Saarc summit

Kathmandu is getting ready to host South Asian leaders from Wednesday Image copyright AP
Image caption Kathmandu is getting ready to host South Asian leaders from Wednesday

Media in India urge South Asian leaders to keep "regional integration" as the main theme of a key summit in Nepal.

The leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) will meet in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, from Wednesday.

Reports say regional connectivity, trade, security and scientific research are likely to be on the agenda of the two-day summit.

Saarc was founded in 1985 by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and it admitted Afghanistan in 2005.

Papers feel the region has not been able to realise its full potential due to poor connectivity.

"Better connectivity within the Saarc region will ramp up trade, provide a fillip to regional tourism and close interaction between the subcontinent's peoples," The Times of India says in an editorial.

The paper adds that Saarc must push regional integration on "a war footing" to galvanise the development of South Asia.

The Asian Age urges Prime Minister Narendra Modi to push for connectivity reforms at the summit.

"Establishing the political framework for connectivity of transport and energy networks through roads, railways and air... can be the best thing that could have happened to Saarc in a long time," it says in an editorial

Pakistan talks

Papers are also discussing a possible meeting between Mr Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the summit.

Mr Sharif's presence at his Indian counterpart's oath-taking ceremony in May had revived hopes of the resumption of peace talks between the neighbours.

However, the ties suffered a setback in August when Delhi cancelled scheduled foreign secretary-level talks after Pakistan's envoy to India, Abdul Basit, met a Kashmiri separatist leader.

Papers feel good relations between the two countries are important for South Asia's development.

"In Saarc, there has been a long-standing complaint that non-congenial India-Pakistan bilateral relations have retarded the progress in economy and trade in South Asia," the Asian Age adds.

Reports say host country Nepal has urged the two leaders to use the summit to restart the peace process.

"It is the need of the hour that the region must go forward, especially on economic issues. And for that, all leaders must speak to each other during the Saarc summit," The Hindu quotes Nepal's Commerce Minister Sunil Thapa as saying.

Kashmir polls

Moving on to other stories, papers urge political parties to refrain from making "false promises" to the people of Indian-administered Kashmir during their poll campaigns.

Voting for the five-phase state assembly elections began on Tuesday. Results are due on 23 December.

Several papers have highlighted that the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to make inroads into the state.

However, papers feel the BJP and other political parties have to remain sensitive to the needs of the people.

The disputed Kashmir region is claimed by both India and Pakistan. It has been a flashpoint for more than 60 years and the rivals have fought two wars over the region.

"The state's unique and tortuous history should caution political parties from making promises that can't be delivered. Jammu and Kashmir has seen too many false dawns and parties ought to be realistic while being sensitive to the aspirations of the people," says The Indian Express.

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