Coming to the end of his landmark visit to Washington at the invitation of US President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday that New Delhi would continue to look for ways to work with Pakistan.
Addressing the media in the Willard Room of the Willard Intercontinental Hotel here this afternoon, Dr. Singh said during a question and answer session following a press conference: "India supports a strong and peaceful Pakistan."
Asked whether the shadow of last year's terror attacks on Mumbai, which claimed nearly 200 innocent lives, could prevent the Government of India from pursuing this course, Dr. Singh said that New Delhi has repeatedly and consistently maintained and said that the dialogue process with Islamabad can resume only after Pakistan takes steps to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure on its soil and bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice.
"We have and will continue to work in that direction," the Prime Minister added.
When asked whether there was scope for a bilateral discussion taking place with Pakistani leaders on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad in the wake of a Pakistani court finally charging Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six others for last year's terror attack that left 166 people dead, the Prime Minister said it was "not envisaged, not expected and not planned."
He said that Pakistan should bring to book the culprits of 26/11 "who are roaming around there freely"
This comment appeared somewhat similar to what one official had said about Hafeez Saeed being a "free range chicken".
Pakistan, Dr. Singh, said is not responding the way it should on 26/11. While paying homage to the 26/11 martyrs, Singh asked Pakistan to act with some urgency against the perpetrators of that horrific attack.
"Pakistan must dismantle the terror infrastructure inside the country. The 26/11 attackers should be investigated and punished," he said.
He also said that talking with the Pakistani leadership could never be ruled out.
"We cannot rush away when politicians are around, but there is no meeting planned on the horizon," Dr. Singh said.
On the comments made by Chief of Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor on Tuesday, that around 2,500 terrorists were being trained in various training camps in Pakistan, and are waiting to enter Indian territory before the passes along the border close due to snowfall, and that the possibility of limited war under a nuclear overhang was still a reality, at least in the Indian subcontinent, along with West Asia and South Asia, the Prime Minister, making a specific reference to Pakistan, said: "Pakistan faces no threat of war from India. India has stated its position, and any other statement distorted out of context, should be ignored."
On the issue of the Taliban's presence in Pakistan, the Prime Minister said that it was and should be a matter of grave concern to both India and Pakistan that the Taliban appeared to be gaining a grip over the mainland in that country, and that Islamabad needed to take urgent steps to arrest this.