India has political will to transform ties, PM tells Zardari (Lead)

September 7th, 2008 - 7:39 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday congratulated Pakistan’s President-elect Asif Ali Zardari and underlined India’s “political will” to “transform relations” with the neighbouring country. “As you assume this high office, I convey to you the desire of the government and people of India to build close ties of friendship and partnership between our countries that respond to the aspirations of our two peoples,” Manmohan Singh said in a felicitation message to Zardari.

“The ushering in of democracy in Pakistan opens new opportunities for us to work together to bring the fruits of peace, prosperity and development to our region by developing the close and cooperative ties that should be normal between two neighbours,” the prime minister said.

“We have the political will to work with you to seize these opportunities and transform our relations. In your new office, you will find a friend in India,” he assured the new president of Pakistan.

Zardari, the widower of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, won a two-thirds majority in presidential elections Saturday. He is expected to be sworn in Monday.

India will be watching closely the evolving civil-military equations in Pakistan after the election of a civilian leader as the president after nearly a decade.

After the February elections in Pakistan, Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that leads the coalition government, sounded an upbeat note about improving relations with India, including ways to accelerate sluggish economic ties between the two countries.

However, the civilian regime took a hawkish posture on Kashmir after unrest swamped parts of Jammu and Kashmir over a land row since May and accused India of excessive use of force in quelling protests.

India was quick to repudiate Pakistan’s attempts to internationalise the Kashmir issue and told Islamabad not to interfere in its internal affairs.

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