Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned on Saturday that Pakistan must stop being “the epicenter of terrorism” if it wants better ties ahead of his first meeting with Nawaz Sharif.
Singh will sit down with Pakistan’s newly elected premier on the sidelines of the United Nations summit on Sunday.
Addressing the UN General Assembly, Singh said he shared Sharif’s hopes for better relations but warned the neighbour must act against terrorism originating from its soil.
“For progress to be made, it is important that the terrorist machinery that draws its sustenance from Pakistan be shut down,” he said.
In his UN address, Sharif had appealed for a “new beginning” with the historic rival. “Pakistan and India can prosper together. We stand ready to re-engage with India in a substantive dialogue.”
The PM said he supported resolving Kashmir issue, but stood firm that the Himalayan territory is “an integral part of India.”
Singh will meet Sharif with backing from the US as US President Barack Obama promised he would have frank talks with Sharif regarding reining in LeT and other terror outfits.
Indian diplomats sketching the roadmap for a new beginning with Pakistan said the PM would not like talks to be derailed as a result of terror attacks.
While India does not entirely buy the narrative that equates Pakistan with India as a victim of terror, it is more sensitive to the limitations of the civilian government there. At the same time, India does not absolve the Pakistani government of its responsibilities.
“India is committed sincerely to resolving all issues with Pakistan, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, through bilateral dialogue on the basis of the Shimla Agreement. However, for progress to be made, it is imperative that Pakistan and the areas under its control are not utilised for aiding and abetting terrorism directed against India,” the PM said, on the lines of his discussions with Obama.
The PM rejected Sharif’s call at the UNGA for self-determination for the people of Kashmir.
“There must be a clear understanding of the fact Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and that there can never, ever, be a compromise with the unity and territorial integrity of India,” he told the UNGA, drawing the lines for the bilateral talks.
Significantly in this context, Obama discussed with Singh whether the Pakistani army would be willing for a “strategic reassessment” of its priorities.
“They reaffirmed their commitment to eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, and disrupting terrorist networks including al-Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Taiba,” said a joint India-US statement issued after Singh and Obama met.