PM to Pakistan: shake hands but end terror first

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NEW DELHI - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday extended “the hands of our friendship” to Pakistan but reiterated the rider to the offer of peace - end terror as an instrument of state policy.

“We sincerely hope and believe that the new ruling classes of Pakistan would grasp the hands of our friendship,” Manmohan Singh told the Lok Sabha, replying to the debate on the motion of thanks to the president’s address.

He added, however, that “terror as an instrument of state policy is something that no civilised society ought to use”.

India’s latest offer for the peace process - frozen in the aftermath of the Mumbai attack in 2008 - comes as the two countries are set to resume stalled talks to resolve issues, including Kashmir.

The prime minister said there were “signs of hope and an atmosphere in which negotiations between the two countries can go forward”.

He asserted that talks were the only way to move ahead and resolve all the differences and informed a packed lower house that foreign secretaries of the two nations have already agreed to re-initiate the dialogue process.

“We are willing to discuss all outstanding issues provided Pakistan gives up its practice of allowing the use of its territory for terrorist activities against India,” he said.

The prime minister said friendly relations between India and Pakistan would ensure development of the subcontinent.

“It could not be achieved unless India and Pakistan normalise their relations. I have been working for that objective since 2005,” he said.

Without referring to the Nov 26, 2008 attack in Mumbai by 10 Pakistani terrorists, Manmohan Singh said some progress had been made but there was a lapse.

“Some progress was made, but then there was a lapse and the terrorist elements would, of course, not allow the process of normalisation to come into effect,” he said.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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