India-Pakistan should deal with prisoners’ issue on humanitarian grounds: PM

May 6th, 2008 - 9:05 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Monday evening that India and Pakistan should deal with the issue of release of prisoners on “humanitarian grounds”. This was the first reaction of the prime minister after reports that Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh’s execution has been put off “indefinitely” by Pakistan.

“India and Pakistan should deal with the issue on humanitarian grounds to ease the sufferings of the prisoners,” Singh said.

The prime minister, speaking to journalists at the Rashtrapati Bhawan after the Civil Investiture Ceremony, praised the new government in Pakistan. But he remained non-committal about his visit to the neighbouring country.

“I wish the government of Pakistan all the very best. The new dispensation in Pakistan has made a good start and demonstrated great statesmanship in dealing with the situation in a difficult environment,” Singh said.

But asked about his visit to Pakistan, the prime minister remained non-committal.

“Let the political situation in Pakistan settle down,” Singh said when quizzed by journalists.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has been to India in 2005 and a return visit by the Indian prime minister was expected before the term of the Congress-led UPA government comes to an end early next year. Despite speculations in different sections in India and Pakistan about a possible visit by the Indian prime minister to Islamabad in the near future, Singh has refused to give any firm date about embarking on a journey to Pakistan.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is scheduled to travel to Pakistan on May 21 to hold his first meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Shah Qureshi. A day before their meeting, the foreign secretaries of the two countries are also scheduled to hold discussions in Islamabad and review the last round of the ‘Composite Dialogue’ that includes all outstanding issues between the two sides, including Kashmir.

The two foreign ministers are scheduled to be briefed by their foreign secretaries on the progress made in the Composite Dialogue. At the end of their meeting, Mukherjee and Qureshi are also expected to announce the dates of the new round of the Composite Dialogue, that is an integral part of the peace process between India and Pakistan.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |