India willing to meet Pakistan more than half-way, says PM (Second Lead)June 9th, 2009 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, June 9 (IANS) Nearly seven months after the Mumbai attacks stalled bilateral talks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday tried to reach out to Pakistan, saying New Delhi was prepared to meet Islamabad “more than halfway” if the latter takes “strong, effective and sustained action” against terrorists.
Indicating possibilities of resuming the bilateral dialogue that came to a pause following the Mumbai carnage, Manmohan Singh stressed that “it was in India’s vital interest to try to again make peace with Pakistan”.
He, however, qualified it by saying that “it takes two hands to clap” and asked Pakistan to create an appropriate atmosphere for lasting peace.
“There are some disturbing trends, but I do hope that the government of Pakistan will create an atmosphere in which we can realise this vision,” Manmohan Singh told parliament.
“I expect the government of Pakistan to take strong, effective and sustained action to prevent the use of their territory for the commission of acts of terrorism against India, or against Indian interests, and use every means at their disposal to bring to justice those who have committed crimes in the past, including the attack on Mumbai.”
“Such action will be welcomed by the people of both countries,” he said.
“If the leaders of Pakistan have the courage, determination and statesmanship to take this road to peace, I wish to assure them that we will meet them more than half way,” Manmohan Singh underlined.
He was replying to the parliament debate on President Pratibha Patil’s earlier address to MPs from both houses.
Improving relations with Pakistan is part of India’s vision of a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood, the prime minister stressed.
“I have, therefore, a vision for a transformed South Asia where, with the cooperation of all our neighbours, we move from poverty to prosperity, from ignorance to knowledge society and from insecurity to lasting peace,” the prime minister said.
“What is at stake is the future of one-and-a-half billion people living in South Asia,” he said while ruing instability and turbulence in the neighbourhood.
The prime minister’s remarks seemed to indicate the possibility of a resumption of the fifth round of composite dialogue that froze mid-way after the 26/11 Mumbai carnage last year for which India has accused Pakistani militants.
India has ruled out the resumption of talks many a time in the past fortnight, since the Manmohan Singh government returned to power with a bigger mandate, saying talks will not be possible unless Pakistan brings the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice.
The frosty bilateral ties suffered another setback when a Pakistan court released Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, the suspect mastermind of the Mumbai attack, a week ago, eliciting strong condemnation from New Delhi.
But increasingly, there is a growing perception among the strategic establishment in India that it would be perhaps wiser to engage Pakistan in dialogue to address issues relating to cross-border terrorism.
Reliable sources indicated that even if the dialogue process resumes, it may not be in the format of the composite dialogue, started in 2004, that includes structured bilateral discussions on eight contentious issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, peace and security, Siachen, Sir Creek and economic relations.
It may take another form, sources said.
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