Democratic Pakistan will help terror-free ties: India

April 20th, 2008 - 9:50 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) A democratic Pakistan will help in creating an “atmosphere free from violence and terror” to enhance ties with India, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan said Sunday. While India did not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, it recognised the advantages of a stable region, Narayanan said, addressing the first International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)-Citi India Global Forum here.

Welcoming a “stable Pakistan”, he said India “believe(s) that the transition to democracy would help in the building of a mutually beneficial relationship in an atmosphere free from violence and terror”.

The senior Indian official was referring to the Feb 18 general elections in Pakistan that led to the opposition political parties coming to power with a clear mandate against the rule of President Pervez Musharraf.

The first major high-level contact between the two sides after the election will take place next month, when External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon will travel to Pakistan to review the Composite Dialogue process and launch the next round of talks.

Speaking on the topic of “India and the Great Powers”, Narayanan said New Delhi’s engagement with major powers “has not and will never deflect India from its areas of core interest, namely its immediate and extended neighbourhoods”.

“India is anxious to see South Asia emerge as a major powerhouse of economic creativity and enterprise, and believes that this is possible only through the creation of an enabling environment,” he said.

He felt that India was making that possible by helping the transition to democracy and also by opening its markets to its neighbours in the South Asian region.

He remarked that the recent constituent assembly elections in Nepal were a “step forward on the path to constitutional democracy”.

Referring to another neighbour, Narayanan said Myanmar’s stability was of “direct interest” to India given its long border with it. “We support the good offices of the UN secretary general, and hope that the process of political reconciliation moves ahead in a manner that responds to the aspirations of the people there”, he said.

India also had “important stakes” in the Gulf region and peace in West Asia, which was home to more than four million Indian workers, added Narayanan.

Earlier, in his prepared speech, the national security advisor noted that one of the “most profound changes” in India’s relationship with other great powers has been in the ties with the US.

“The ongoing negotiations regarding the civil nuclear cooperation agreement, between the US and India, reflect this imperative, and should be seen as a vivid demonstration and expression of confidence in India’s scientific prowess, as well as a recognition of India as a responsible power with advanced nuclear technology,” he said.

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