PM warns Pakistan over terror, lauds democracy (Lead)

August 15th, 2008 - 12:18 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS) Underlining India’s quest for “a peaceful, stable and prosperous neighbourhood”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday reminded Pakistan that if support to terrorists did not halt, the peace initiatives between the two countries will suffer. “Our goal in South Asia is to seek a peaceful, stable and prosperous neighbourhood,” Manmohan Singh said in his Independence Day address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

“We seek to accelerate the pace of social and economic development in our country and our region while safeguarding our national security. Our foreign policy has been based on these principles,” he said.

Lauding the strengthening of democratic forces especially in Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan, Manmohan Singh said he had not minced words in conveying his “concern and disappointment” to the Pakistani government over the July 7 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul. It was an obvious reference to his meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in Colombo earlier this month.

“The recent blasts in our embassy in Kabul have cast a shadow over our efforts to normalize relations with Pakistan and to bring a lasting and honourable peace in our region,” he said.

At the same time, the prime minister made it clear that he was still willing to give the benefit of doubt to the ruling coalition in Islamabad by saying that terrorists were enemies of the India and Pakistan who were trying to derail the peace process between the two countries

“If this issue of terrorism is not addressed, all the good intentions that we have for our two peoples to live in peace and harmony will be negated,” Manmohan Singh maintained.

“We will not be able to pursue the peace initiatives we want to take,” he added.

India has blamed Pakistan’s spy agency ISI for masterminding the July 7 attack on the Indian mission in Kabul that killed two Indian diplomats and 48 others in the first such strike on Indian interests abroad. Afghanistan and the US too have blamed Islamabad. Pakistan has denied the allegations.

“The terrorists and those who support them are enemies of the people of India and Pakistan, of friendship between the two countries and of peace in the region and the world. We must defeat them,” Manmohan Singh said.

Manmohan Singh’s remarks, reminding Pakistan of its alleged complicity in terror attacks targeted at Indian interests, comes at a time when Islamabad is trying to capitalize on the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir by threatening to take the issue to the UN and other global bodies.

India has repudiated Pakistan’s attempt to meddle in its internal affair and warned Islamabad against internationalising an issue that both countries have agreed to resolve bilaterally.

Underlining the pursuit of an independent foreign policy, Manmohan Singh said that India has “strengthened our relations with the major powers, Latin American countries, Arab countries and African countries.

“We will continue our efforts in this direction, keeping in view our national interests,” he said.

Underscoring India’s new status in the world and the respect it commands as one of the world’s fastest growing economies, the prime minister said: “The world today expects India to regain its due place in the comity of nations. This is a moment of opportunity for us.

“We are rapidly marching forward to regain our rightful place in the comity of nations,” he added.

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