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Don't divide J&K in name of religion: PM

PM Manmohan Singh says politics of consensus and dialogue is the only way to overcome India’s challenges. Prasad Nichenametla and Aloke Tikku report. I-Day Special.

india Updated: Aug 16, 2008 00:50 IST

From the Amarnath land row to Pakistan sponsored terrorism in the region, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said politics of consensus and dialogue was the only way to overcome India’s challenges.

<b1>"The recent incidents in Jammu and Kashmir are a cause for concern. In this hour of crisis, divisive politics will lead us nowhere. I appeal to all political parties to keep the long-term interests of Jammu and Kashmir in view and come together to find a permanent solution to the problems of the state,” he said.

The issue of providing facilities to pilgrims could only be resolved in an atmosphere of peace and goodwill, Singh added.

In his last address from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Singh resisted the temptation to go overboard with new promises. Instead, he focussed on the present problems.

The Prime Minister not only cautioned parties against dividing people in the name of religion in J&K but also urged Pakistan to address the issue or terrorism. “The terrorists and those who support them are enemies of the people of India and Pakistan, of friendship between the two countries…We must defeat them.”

He said he had already conveyed Delhi’s concern and disappointment to Islamabad.

Pointing to the recent blasts at the Indian embassy in Kabul, Singh said: "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."

His conciliatory tone came in the backdrop of Pakistani troops firing mortars and rockets at Indian Army and BSF positions at two places in forward areas of Jammu region on Friday.

The PM’s speech also saw acknowledgement that there were need to strengthen the intelligence network. With serial bomb blasts in Ahmedabad and Bangalore at the back of his mind, Singh committed all resources and help that to the forces need to meet the challenge of terrorism.

Reiterating that he had no promises to make but only promises to keep, Singh presented the progress of his government’s commitments. He counted inflation as a major challenge and elaborated the measures taken to insulate the poor from the impact of rising food and fuel prices.

As expected, he spoke about the need for new sources of energy — nuclear energy topping it — for a sustained growth that would end poverty and generate employment for all.

Singh highlighted the Indo-US nuclear deal as the one that would end the country’s nuclear isolation.

"The nuclear agreement that we are negotiating with developed countries will end India’s nuclear isolation. It will open up new opportunities for trade in dual-use high technologies and nuclear materials and equipment, opening up new pathways to accelerate industrialisation of our country.

It will enable us to provide electricity to meet the needs of our farmers, our artisans, our traders and our industry,” he said.