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PM offers Pak a pact: Let?s be friends

IN A move that seemed to address Pakistan's growing security concerns against the backdrop of India's nuclear deal with the US, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has spelled out his vision of a peace, security and friendship treaty with Islamabad.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2006 13:36 IST

IN A move that seemed to address Pakistan's growing security concerns against the backdrop of India's nuclear deal with the US, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has spelled out his vision of a peace, security and friendship treaty with Islamabad.

A major initiative in the peace process between the two countries, the PM's offer -- made on Friday in his speech at the inaugural run of the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service -- addresses Islamabad's perennial complaint that it is the one doing all the thinking to add substance to the bilateral dialogue.

Hoping that his offer would be reciprocated, Singh said that he viewed the treaty as a culmination of the peace process that would lend "meaning and substance to the quest for our shared goals".

In its first remarks, the Pakistan Foreign Office noted "some positive sentiments" in the PM's speech where he recognised the need to move forward on Kashmir.

On the face of it, the proposed treaty — details of which will have to be worked out by the two sides — seems to have elements of the stillborn Indian initiative of a friendship treaty in the early 1980s and the no-war pact with which Islamabad had then responded.

Officials said the core idea was to underscore New Delhi's commitment to joint security and peace in the region. Without a direct reference to nuclear cooperation with the US and other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, India has conveyed to Pakistan that it should not feel threatened "as we're in no way trying to adopt any aggressive posture".

While according precedence to a life of dignity for the people on either side of the LoC, Singh did not forger to mention J&K. "It's a mistake to link (as often done by General Pervez Musharraf) normalisation of relations in other areas with finding a solution to J&K," he said. "But we're not afraid of discussing… or finding pragmatic, practical solutions to resolve this issue as well."

The PM's prescription for Kashmir "envisaged" a situation where the two parts of J&K, with active encouragement of India and Pakistan, will work out "cooperative, consultative mechanisms so as to maximise gains of cooperation in solving problems of social and economic development of the region".

Future as PM sees it
The possibility of India and Pakistan reaching agreements on Siachen, Sir Creek and Baglihar “if all concerned are willing to accept the ground realities”

The need for the two countries to work together to seize economic opportunities in South, West and Central Asia

The prospect of Amritsar and Lahore again becoming international commercial centres serving the entire region

First Published: Mar 25, 2006 13:36 IST