PM invokes Vajpayee, says engagement with Pak best way forward

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 31 2009, 04:41am hrs
Seeking to put at rest concerns over the Indo-Pak joint statement at Sharm el-Sheikh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said dialogue and engagement is the best way forward but Islamabad needs to act effectively before talks can be held.

Intervening in a debate in the Lok Sabha on issues related to his recent visits abroad, Singh maintained the countrys stand has not been diluted and dialogue cannot be resumed till Pakistan fulfils in letter and spirit its commitment not to allow its territory to be used for terrorism against India.

He said India was ready to discuss all issues, including Pakistans misgivings and totally false allegations on Balochistan, since it has nothing to hide. He made it clear that he had not received any dossier on Balochistan from his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani during their meeting in Sharm-el Sheikh on July 16.

I have said time and again and I repeat it right now it is impossible for any government in India to work towards full normalisation of relations with Pakistan unless the government of Pakistan fulfils, in letter and spirit, its commitment not to allow its territory to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against India, he said.

We did not dilute our positions or our resolve to defeat terrorism by talking to any country, Singh said, noting that even other major powers affected by Pakistan-based terrorism are engaging with that country.

Unless we talk directly to Pakistan, we will have to rely on third parties to do so. That route has severe limitations as to its effectiveness, he said.

Making it clear that India wanted good relations with Pakistan, he said it is in our vital interest to make sincere efforts to live in peace with Pakistan... despite the best of intentions, we cannot move forward if terrorist attacks launched from Pakistani soil continue to kill and injure our citizens, here and abroad. That is the national position.

Responding to the sharp BJP attack on the Joint Statement, Singh noted that dealing with Pakistan is not easy. In this regard, he referred to his distinguished predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee and said he shared his vision along with frustration in dealing with the neighbour.

While talking about the uncertainties involved in the Indo-Pak relations, he pointed out how Vajpayee had opted for dialogue again and again even after the Kargil conflict, Kandahar hijacking and attack on Parliament.