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US twist in PM?s Pak overture

Each time India is a step closer to conclude N-deal, Singh offers an olive branch to Pak, writes Vinod Sharma.

india Updated: Dec 21, 2006 02:27 IST

With each step India has taken towards wrapping up the nuclear deal with the United States, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has gone the extra length to make peace with Pakistan.

The last time he made a forceful overture towards Pakistan was on March 24 — just a fortnight after clinching the separation plan for India’s civilian and strategic nuclear facilities with the US during President George W. Bush’s Delhi visit. The reaffirmation on Wednesday of his vision of a “Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Security” with Islamabad came close on the heels of Bush signing into law the bill enabling him to finalise the nuclear cooperation pact with India.

Experts believe this is India’s way of telling Pakistan and the international community that the nuclear deal is not a threat but an opportunity for its neighbours.

Former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan G. Parthasarathy said, “The PM is seeking to dispel the impression that after putting relations with the US on a solid footing, India has a lesser incentive in making peace with Pakistan.”

Strategic affairs expert Uday Bhaskar said, “The PM is walking the extra mile to encourage Pakistan to see that equitable peace with India is in the interest of both countries.”

Singh said in Amritsar on Wednesday: “I earnestly hope that relations between our two countries become so friendly that we are able to agree on the Peace Treaty.” He was at a foundation-stone laying ceremony for a slew of projects, including a four-lane road to Wagah.

The prime minister’s focus unmistakably was on people-to-people contact, on sharing prosperity by making the ‘line’ irrelevant not only in Kashmir, but also the international boundary with Pakistan. Without accepting or rejecting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s four-point formula for Kashmir, he said, “If both sides have open and friendly minds, then it will be possible for us to resolve all pending issues through dialogue.”

Email Vinod Sharma: vinodsharma@hindustantimes.com