Prime Minister offers olive branch to Pakistan

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 28, 2009 10:10 hrs

Offering olive branch to Pakistan, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Wednesday said that India is willing to talk to anyone who has any meaningful ideas for promoting peace and development in Kashmir.

Inaugurating the 119-km-long Qazigund-Anantnag rail link here, Dr. Singh said: "I had also said that I was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan. I did so not because of weakness but from a position of strength. We had the most fruitful and productive discussions ever with the Government of Pakistan during the period 2004-07 when militancy and violence began to decline. Intensive discussions were held on all issues including on a permanent resolution of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir."

"We want to carry all sections of the people with us in resolving the political and economic problems of Jammu and Kashmir," he added.

However, he said: "Trade facilities at the border are inadequate. There are no banking channels. Customs facilities need to be strengthened. There are no trade fairs. The lists of tradable commodities need to be increased. Clearances for travel take time. Prisoners of India and Pakistan are languishing in each other's jails even after completing their sentences."

He said, the fact is that these are humanitarian issues whose resolution requires the cooperation of Pakistan.

"We are ready to discuss these and other issues with the Government of Pakistan. I hope that as a result things will be made easier for our traders, divided families, prisoners and travelers. For a productive dialogue it is essential that terrorism must be brought under control," he added.

Asking Pakistan to destroy terrorist groups, he said: "I hope that the Government of Pakistan will take the ongoing actions against the terrorist groups to their logical conclusion. They should destroy these groups wherever they are operating and for whatever misguided purpose."

He called upon the people and Government of Pakistan to show their sincerity and good faith.

As I have said many times before, we will not be found wanting in our response, he added.

The Prime Minister said India would press Pakistan to curb the activities of those elements that are engaged in terrorism in India.

"If they are non-state actors, it is the solemn duty of the government of Pakistan to bring them to book, to destroy their camps and to eliminate their infrastructure," he said.

The perpetrators of the acts of terror must pay the heaviest penalty for their barbaric crimes against humanity, he added.

"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," he said.

The Prime Minister further said that it is important to connect families across the Line of Control (LoC).

"The cross-LoC initiatives have been well received on both sides of the border," he added. (ANI)

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