For peace, will meet Pak leaders more than half way: PM

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 11 2009, 03:58am hrs
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said he expected strong, effective and sustained action by Islamabad to end the use of its territory for commission of terror acts directed against India and that it will use every means at its disposal to bring to justice those behind the Mumbai attacks.

Singh was replying to the motion of thanks to the Presidents address in the Lok Sabha, just days after India questioned Pakistans sincerity in addressing terrorism targeting India in the backdrop of the release of Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, a key accused in the Mumbai attacks.

Referring to incidents like the release of Saeed as a disturbing trend, Singh, however, hoped that Pakistan would join India in bringing peace to the region. If the leaders of Pakistan have the courage, the determination and statesmanship to take this road to peace, I wish to assure them that we will meet them more than halfway, he said.

In Lok Sabha today, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also invoked the mantra of bipartisanship to seek Opposition cooperation in achieving a nine per cent growth rate and implementing his governments stated agenda that includes strengthening flagship programmes, improving delivery of public services and tackling terror and extremism.

In reaching out to the Opposition, Singh underlined the consensual approach on display in the election of the speaker and the deputy speaker. A new beginning had been made in government-opposition ties, he said. He pledged that the UPA government would be unbiased in its dealings with states. No discrimination will be done against any state which may not be governed by parties which are in power in Delhi. That is a commitment I give, he said. Lauding LK Advanis comments that the 21st century will be Indias if the government and opposition work together, Singh said: This is an idea, I have been saying, whose time has come.

In his 40-minute speech, his first in the Lok Sabha after becoming Prime Minister for a second term, Singh acknowledged that the global downturn had had an impact, but said there was considerable scope to increase public expenditure, especially on infrastructure projects.

Interestingly, Singh avoided references to disinvestment, while talking about modalities of raising additional resources to bankroll developmental projects. The reluctance, party leaders indicated, arose from the opposition that allies like the Trinamool Congress and DMK had expressed on Monday to disinvestment proposals.

He promised a fresh look at development strategies for underdeveloped regions, especially tribal areas, besides assuring special attention to backward states like Bihar, in response to a reference by RJD chief Lalu Yadav. I am conscious of the fact that the tribal population in our country has not got a fair deal. The way we administer the tribal areas, the way we send officers who are disinterested to work in these difficult tribal areas, the flow of resources is not properly monitored and there is no proper guidance in the spending of resources.

Singh said his government would work to restore normalcy in Sri Lanka and return displaced Tamils to their homes. He said the UPA government would engage Australian authorities in high-level dialogue to provide security for Indian students.

This is a mandate for stability, of change with continuity, of equitable development and preservation and protection of secular and plural system... The agenda will keep us busy every day all the five years, the PM said.