It’s in India’s “vital interest” to try to revive the peace dialogue with Pakistan, which was stalled after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said.
But, Singh made it clear that Islamabad would have to take “strong, effective and sustained action” to prevent its territory from being used by terrorists.
With the recent release of Pakistan-based terror mastermind Hafeez Saeed raising questions over Islamabad’s sincerity to probe the Mumbai attacks, the Prime Minister said Pakistan should do all it can to bring to justice those who have committed crimes against India, including the Mumbai attack.
“If the leaders of Pakistan have the courage, determination and statesmanship to take this road to peace, I assure them we will meet them more than half the way,” Singh said in Lok Sabha and later in Rajya Sabha, while replying to the debate on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address.
He said he had “a vision of a transformed South Asia where, with the cooperation of all our neighbours, we move from poverty to prosperity.’’
But he stressed, “I recognise it takes two hands to clap. There are some disturbing trends, but I do hope that… Pakistan will create an atmosphere in which we can realise this vision.’’
Singh said even the United States had come to terms with the reality of the situation and opened a dialogue with Iran.
Singh’s speech marked “a new beginning” in Opposition-government relations, with his bipartisan approach being expected to help resolve national problems, including the challenges of development and security.
The Prime Minister spoke on a wide range of issues, including the attack on Indian students in Australia, the economic slowdown, poverty, terror, Naxalite violence and the promise of fuelling inclusive growth.
He, however, made no reference to the Women’s Reservation Bill, although he made a cursory reference to the empowerment of women in the Upper House.
Singh resolved to deal firmly with terrorism and outlined a two-pronged approach to tackle Naxalism by ensuring the development of regions breeding Left wing extremism.
He also listed the steps taken, after the Mumbai terror strike, on toning up security, including maritime security.
Singh expected the Sri Lankan government to show courage in meeting the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the Tamil people to live their lives as equal citizens. The Tamil problem is larger than the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), he said.
He also advocated strong and stable relations with China.