NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday that India was continuing to talk to Pakistan to normalise ties, but the latter was faltering on its part of the bargain with regard to terrorism.
Addressing the Lok Sabha where he berated the Bharatiya Janata Party for using foul language against him and his party, Dr Singh drew a rosy picture of his domestic and foreign policy measures.
“Our dialogue with Pakistan continues in order to normalise our relations: promote bilateral cooperation and people-to-people contacts; and resolve outstanding issues,” Dr Singh said towards the end of his speech before winning a key vote on government’s policies. He described the recent flare-up on the Line of Control as a negative influence on the dialogue process.
“Progress has been possible in some areas like trade and people-to-people contacts. But incidents such as the barbaric manner in which two Indian soldiers were killed on the Line of Control in January vitiate the atmosphere and cast a shadow on the bilateral dialogue process.
“Further, we are yet to see tangible progress in dismantling the terrorism infrastructure in Pakistan and in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack of November 2008. Normal, good-neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan — free from the threat of violence, and enhanced bilateral economic cooperation — would be in our mutual interest. We also expect Pakistan to take steps to create a conducive environment to take the process of normalisation forward,” Dr Singh said.
India has an abiding interest in a stable, strong, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, which is no longer a safe haven for terrorism.
“As Afghanistan undergoes political, economic and security transitions in 2014 and beyond, we will continue to help build Afghan capabilities to evolve peacefully and fight terrorism and extremism,” the prime minister said.
The Indian government is under pressure from its Tamil deputies to support a US-led resolution against Sri Lanka’s human rights record against Jaffna Tamils. The prime minister hedged his bets on how India would vote.
“As regards the issue of a draft resolution expected to be tabled by the United States at the forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, our decision will depend on the substance of the final text tabled in the council. We will, however, be guided by our consistent position that we support proposals that seek to advance the achievement of a future for the Tamil community in Sri Lanka that is marked by equality, dignity, justice and self respect.”
Responding to concerns raised by the deputies on the alleged threat India faces from China, Dr Singh played down the issue.
“In my view, there is enough space in the world today for both countries to achieve their developmental aspirations. While we do have differences over the border issue, since 1988 we have evolved mechanisms to address the issue and to maintain peace and tranquillity on the border.”