Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the regime change in Pakistan augured well for Indo-Pak relations.
“Whatever hurdles there were in the Indo-Pak dialogue process have disappeared following the return of a democratic government in Pakistan,” he said on Friday, addressing a public meeting here, a few kilometres from the border.
“We want to make the process of dialogue both meaningful and result oriented,” said Singh, on his first visit to J&K after the new government was sworn in Islamabad. “Though a lot of ground has been covered, some issues and misunderstandings still remain. We want permanent peace along the border.”
“India wants all issues resolved through dialogue. With the return of democracy in Pakistan, we hope to speed up the process,” the PM added.
“As we are now two neighbouring democracies, our responsibility to keep our citizens safe within our respective borders increases,” he said. “By joining hands, India and Pakistan can tackle economic difficulties like the recent price rise, which are hurting people globally in a more effective manner.”
Addressing the rally soon after he inaugurated the country’s longest cantilever bridge across the Chenab, Singh promised freer movement of people and increased trade between India and Pakistan. He promised to open more routes across the LoC, such as the Kargil-Skardu route and the Jammu-Sialkot route, and increase bilateral trade to $ 2 billion.
The PM also called upon the people to participate in larger numbers in the elections — a veiled appeal to separatists to join mainstream politics.
Singh’s speech, in chaste Urdu, drew much applause, specially when he announced schemes and concessions. Governor SK Sinha, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, PCC chief Saifuddin Soz and former CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed were present on the dias with him.