India will continue engagement with Pakistan: PM

Wednesday, 29 July 2009, 13:44 Hrs
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India will continue engagement with Pakistan: PM
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday asserted there was no dilution in India's stand on cross-border terrorism but argued there was no alternative to engagement with neighbours.

"We can have a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan only if they fulfil their commitments in letter and spirit not to allow their territory to be used for terrorist attacks against India," Manmohan Singh told parliament in his response to the debate on the July 16 India-Pakistan joint statement issued after a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in Sharm-el-Sheikh.

His reasoned reply came after the opposition as well as supporting parties came down hard on the prime minister, accusing him of compromising India's consensual stand of not having a dialogue with Pakistan till that country ends cross-border terror.

"There is no dilution of our stand in this regard," Manmohan Singh assured the house even while warning Pakistan that any Mumbai-like attack will put an "intolerable strain" on the bilateral relationship that he was seeking so hard to maintain.

Allaying apprehensions about the "delinking of action on terror from the composite dialogue" - a controversial formulation in the joint statement that has been decried by critics - Manmohan Singh said Pakistan knows very well that action on terror is "an absolute and compelling imperative that does not depend on the resumption of dialogue".

Manmohan Singh said Pakistan "must show the same political will and resolve against terrorists on its eastern border as they seem to have done so against terrorists on its western border".

The prime minister shared with parliament the details of the steps taken by Pakistan against the Mumbai attackers in the form of a 34-page dossier given to India July 11 -- which appeared to have prompted him to start limited engagement at the level of foreign secretaries.

Pakistan has admitted for the first time that its nationals carried out a terrorist attack in India, Manmohan Singh said.

"It is the first (time) that they have admitted that their nationals and terrorist organisation based in Pakistan carried out a ghastly attack in India," he said.

He said the admission was made in the dossier handed over to New Delhi just before he left for Egypt. "This is the first time that Pakistan has ever formally briefed us on the results of the investigations of any attacks," said the prime minister, saying no previous government had been able to get such a confession out of Pakistan before.

He said the dossier detailed the planning and sequence of investigation by Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency, which also included the copy of first information report lodged, with photos of the arrested persons.

"The Pakistan dossier states that the investigation has established beyond doubt that Lashkar-e-Taiba has planned that attack," Manmohan Singh said.

Manmohan Singh stressed that these steps are not enough and reminded Islamabad to take "exemplary punishment" against the perpetrators of the Mumbai carange.

"The operations of all terror groups that threaten India must shut down," he emphasised.

In his meetings with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Gilani, Manmohan Singh said he "conveyed in strongest possible words our concerns and expectations and the deep anger and hurt of the people of India" over the Mumbai attacks.

"It's our obligation to keep the channels of communication open," Manmohan Singh said while alluding to efforts by the US and Iran to start a dialogue and repair their ties that have been strained for three decades.
Source: IANS
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