Sonia backs PM on Pak, Rahul says government, party are one

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 1 2009, 03:05am hrs
Ending days of speculation about a party-government rift on the Indo-Pak joint statement, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday backed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, supporting the resumption of dialogue with Pakistan if the neighbouring country demonstrated its seriousness to bring perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks to justice.

Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) meeting here, she said that the Prime Minister had made a firm and unequivocal statement in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday on all major foreign policy issues, and in particular, on Indias relations with Pakistan.

No one should be in any doubt on our partys position vis--vis Pakistan. It remains unchanged. We support the resumption of the dialogue process with Pakistan, but only after it has demonstrated its seriousness to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks to justice, and to prevent its territory from being used to launch terror attacks on any part of our country. These are imperative for restoring confidence and building an environment conducive to any meaningful dialogue, stated the Congress president.

Her remarks were in consonance with the PMs statement in the Lok Sabha the day before. The PM had also maintained that dialogue with Pakistan could not be possible unless it acted against anti-India terror activities emanating from Pakistani soil. He had, however, underlined the need for engagement with Pakistan unless you want to go to war.

Shortly after Sonias endorsement of the PMs stand at the CPP meeting, AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi also sought to clear the air, denying any differences between the party and the government. Government and party are absolutely one. You, the media, have created such an impression, said Rahul in response to queries about reported differences between the two over the Indo-Pak joint statement.

Balochistan did not figure in Sonias speech at the CPP meeting.