Manmohan seeks good ties with Pakistan, lauds Vajpayee

March 5th, 2008 - 6:53 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) India and Pakistan should think about “collective destiny, collective security and prosperity”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Wednesday and termed as “most courageous” the steps his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee took to improve ties with Pakistan. “We want to live in peace, stability and prosperity with our neighbouring countries… We want mutually beneficial relations with all our neighbours, with all major powers and with all our economic partners,” Manmohan Singh said in the Lok Sabha during his reply to a discussion on the motion of thanks on President Pratibha Patil’s address to the joint session of parliament.

Asserting that India wants to live in peace with Pakistan, the prime minister said: “India seeks good relations with Pakistan. The destinies of our two nations are interlinked. We need to put our past behind.”

“We need to think about our collective destiny, our collective security and our collective prosperity.”

Congratulating the people of Pakistan for their Feb 18 election, Manmohan Singh said leaders of main political parties have spoken of their keenness to develop close relations with India and to work towards enduring peace.

“A great daughter of Pakistan had to sacrifice her life in the process. We mourned with profound sadness the death of Benazir Bhutto,” he said, referring to the assassination of the former Pakistan prime minister and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader.

Manmohan Singh, who was vehemently criticised by the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader L.K. Advani during his more-than-hour long speech, however, praised Vajpayee for his initiatives to improve India-Pakistan relations.

Pointing out that the dialogue, started between Bhutto and former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, has been resumed, Singh said: “The most courageous steps to build peace were taken by prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. We have continued the process with President (General Pervez) Musharraf.”

“I hope that the newly elected leaders in Pakistan can quickly move forward with us on this (working on enduring peace),” he said, extending “warmest wishes” to the people of Pakistan.

Earlier this week, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament that India was ready to resume the composite dialogue with Pakistan that was stalled following political uncertainty in days preceding Feb 18 polls in that country.

“The government stands ready to resume the composite dialogue process as soon as a duly constituted government is in place in Pakistan,” he said Monday, adding that New Delhi hoped “to resolve outstanding issues and build a mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan in an atmosphere free of violence and terrorism”.

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