India ready to talk all issues with Pak: PM
Singh tells a Finnish magazine that he is ready to thrash out all issues with Pakistan, but not publicly.india Updated: Oct 13, 2006 13:34 IST
India is ready to discuss "all issues", including Kashmir, with Pakistan, but not publicly, Prime Minister Manmohan has told a Finnish magazine, stressing that there would be no talks on altering the state's borders.
Asked about Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's proposal that the Kashmir problem could be resolved by giving special autonomy to its people, Manmohan Singh told Kuvalehti magazine: "I would not like to discuss this issue in public with Musharraf.
We are prepared to discuss all issues pertaining to relations between India and Pakistan, including the Kashmir issue.
"I have said on many occasions that we cannot discuss moving borders. We have to create a situation in which it is irrelevant on which side of the border the inhabitants of the area live, because goods as well as people can move freely. That is the job of the two governments, and it is the only alternative."
Manmohan Singh also told the magazine, in the interview given in New Delhi before leaving for Britain and Finland, that he was satisfied with his meeting with Musharraf in Havana Cuba during the non-aligned summit.
"We agreed on common procedures to uproot terrorism. I hope Pakistan will seriously work with us on this issue.
"The current constructive dialogue is based on Musharraf's commitment made in January 2004 to guarantee that Pakistan will not allow any kind of terrorist activities in its territory."
In the interview, Manmohan Singh spoke at length about the state of Indian economy and the many problems confronting the country.
Admitting that India "is still a very poor country", he said there was "extreme poverty" that "still affects the lives of millions and millions of Indians".
"For example, we still struggle to provide education for all children. We also have to ensure that the quality of education is sufficient.
And we still have a long way to go to reach a level of healthcare that is available in the most developed states of India.
"It will still take a long time before we can call India a developed country. But if we look at our human resources, this gap can be bridged."
Manmohan Singh also said India was one of the largest economies in the world in terms of purchasing power parity, "and I believe our relative share of the world economy will continue to grow... But by international comparison, India is still a very poor country".
He said the Indian state's real challenge was to increase growth and at the same time guarantee that the poorest segment of the population benefited from the growth process.
"Growth alone is not enough. We have to adopt a policy which guarantees that more wealth will be distributed to the poorest sections of the society in the form of jobs, state sponsored education and healthcare.
That way we can eradicate extreme poverty that still affects the lives of millions and millions of Indians."
Referring to suicides by debt-ridden farmers, Manmohan Singh said: "We are trying to find solutions through providing loans and irrigation, and also new forms of sustenance such as producing dairy products and horticulture.
In this way we could reduce the vulnerability of farmers, if the harvest of their primary crops is meagre".