PM to Pak: Heres hand of friendship, take it forward

Written by Muzamil Jaleel | Anantnag | Updated: Oct 30 2009, 04:36am hrs
Urging Islamabad to destroy terror groups operating from its territory, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday that if Pakistan showed sincerity and good faith, India will not be found wanting in (its) response. Inaugurating the Anantnag-Qazigund rail link here, Singh underlined that terrorists want permanent enmity to prevail between the two countries but made no reference to the 26/11 attacks or militancy in Kashmir.

He directly addressed the Kashmiri youth and underscored development even as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had, minutes earlier, insisted that the Kashmir problem can only be resolved by politics and not money.

Quoting a poet, Singh said: There are moments in history when wrong decisions are taken...the effects of which are felt for ages.

He said he was appealing to the government of Pakistan that the hand of friendship that we have extended should be carried forward. This is in the interest of people of India and Pakistan. In a clear message of reconciliation, he said: I strongly believe that the majority of people in Pakistan seek good neighbourly and cooperative relations between India and Pakistan. They seek a permanent peace...This is our view as well.

Referring to his 2004 speech, Singh said he had shown his readiness to discuss all issues with Pakistan. I did so not because of weakness but from the position of strength and we had the most fruitful and productive discussions ever with Pakistan between 2004 and 2007 when militancy and violence began to decline. Intensive discussions were held on all issues including on a permanent resolution of the issue of J& K, he said.

For the first time in 60 years, people were able to travel by road across the LoC. Divided families were re-united at the border. Trade between the two sides of Kashmir began. In fact, our overall trade with Pakistan increased three times during 2004 and 2007. The number of visas that we issued to Pakistanis doubled during the same period. An additional rail link was re-established.

Given the history of the troubled relationship with Pakistan, Singh said, these are not small achievements. We were moving in the right direction. For the first time there was a feeling among the people that a durable and final peace was around the corner, he said.

However, all the progress that we achieved has been repeatedly thwarted by acts of terrorism. The terrorists want permanent enmity to prevail between the two countries. If they (the terrorists) are non-state actors, it is the solemn duty of the Pakistan government to bring them to book, to destroy their camps and to eliminate their infrastructure, Singh said.