‘Zardari's visit cause for cautious optimism’

Washington: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's planned visit to India is a cause for cautious optimism, an eminent American think-tank chief has said, noting that serious question remains if the ISI would allow for any semblance of reduction of tension in ties.

Zardari's planned visit in April shows a thawing of the freeze in relations between the two countries since the Mumbai attacks of November 26, 2011, Asia Society President Vishakha Desai said.

"In the past year, some winds of change seem to be in air," Desai said in a statement.

Zardari is scheduled to visit India on April 8 to pay obeisance at the Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer.

"The announcement that President Zardari will visit India should be a cause of cautious optimism for all who care about the long term peaceful relationships between the two countries," she said.

However, some serious questions remain, Desai said based on her past experiences.

"Will the Pakistani military, especially ISI, allow for any semblance of reduction of tension when their very existence is predicated upon their sense of competition with India?" she asked.

India is extremely concerned about the fate of Afghanistan and the role of Pakistan's military in the aftermath of American troops withdrawal from the region, Desai said.

"The huge trust deficit between the foreign policy establishments in both countries will require a strong action and a clear vision from the leaders of the two countries. It remains to be seen if they have what it takes to put this troubled relationship on a positive path," Desai said.