Stop terrorism for better ties, PM tells Pakistan (lead, Changing dateline)

December 14th, 2008 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghJammu/Shangus (Jammu and Kashmir), Dec 14 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday asked Pakistan to stop terrorists from using its soil to mount attacks against India if it wished to have normal bilateral ties. “Until Pakistan lives up to this condition, the bilateral relations cannot be normal between India and Pakistan,” Manmohan Singh said at an election rally in Satwari in Jammu region.

He was speaking against the backdrop of the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks in which over 170 people, including 26 foreigners, were killed. India has blamed elements in Pakistan for the terror strike.

Ahead of the sixth of the seven-phased assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the prime minister told a modest gathering of about 2,000 people in a government school that India wanted normal ties with Pakistan but that was dependent on Pakistan’s attitude, particularly in taming terrorism.

“Our restraint should not be construed as our weakness,” Manmohan Singh.

Earlier in the day, addressing a rally at Shangus in the Kashmir Valley, the prime minister said: “Pakistan must keep its situation under control. There are people there who are always ready to carry out bloody attacks against our country.”

The prime minister said India wanted to improve relations with Pakistan, but this could only be achieved through mutual wisdom and co-operation.

“All issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, can be resolved through dialogue. Borders cannot be changed, but restrictions over them can be reduced and their significance brought down,” he said.

“People are now coming here from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to meet their relations and people also go across from here. Trade routes have been opened up and we are exploring the possibility of opening up more routes,” he said.

The prime minister said long years of terrorism have left death and destruction in its wake in Kashmir.

“We announced a re-construction programme for militancy affected families of Rs.2,600 crore (Rs.26 billion).”

“Electric power projects were started in Jammu and Kashmir during the last three years of Congress rule here. We also announced setting up of an Indian Institute of Management and a Central University in Kashmir,” the prime minister noted.

“The status of the two medical college hospitals in the Valley and in Jammu has been raised to the level of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS),” he said.

Seeking votes for Congress candidate Gulzar Ahmad, who has been fielded from this south Kashmir constituency where voting will be held Dec 17, Manmohan Singh made an emotional appeal to the voters.

“We started construction of the Mughal Road between south Kashmir and the Jammu region with Rs.640 crore (Rs.6.4 billion). Of the 84 km of this road, 70 km is ready and even a jeep run was carried out on this road recently,” he told the voters.

“In our re-construction programme for militancy affected families, we made provisions for pensions to widows and scholarships to orphans.”

“We are hearing of demands for self-rule and autonomy being made in the Valley. I must remind you that it was the Congress government that through constitutional amendments 73 and 74 brought in the concept of self-governance to village and district levels.”

“Autonomy and self-rule is also possible if the Congress is brought back to power by you in Jammu and Kashmir,” Manmohan Singh told the people.

He congratulated the people of the Valley for their overwhelming participation in the elections so far.

“This proves that you have full faith in democracy and with the power of your vote a new government would be in office in the state in the next few days,” he said.

In the Jammu region, he also promised that all basic needs of “bijli, sadak, pani” (power, roads and water) would be met. He sought a stable government of the Congress party in Jammu and Kashmir to help work in this direction.

He also assured that there would be no discrimination with any region with “equitable distribution to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.”

This was first time in the ongoing assembly elections that the prime minister had come here to campaign for Congress candidates. Two more phases of polls are scheduled for Dec 17 and Dec 24. Counting of votes would be conducted on Dec 28.

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