Prime Minister .Manmohan Singh on Saturday spoke of certain “harsh realities on the ground” which inform India’s relations with Pakistan and suggested that before taking a decision to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif he had to take into account several factors.
The Prime Minister hinted it might be difficult to take a decision “if terror acts do not stop, if those who voice terrorist thoughts move about freely, if there is no significant progress in bringing the culprits of the Mumbai massacre to book.”
The Prime Minister, however, did say that “under normal conditions I would be happy to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom I respect and who has said the right things about how the relations between our two countries could evolve.”
Dr. Singh also reiterated the traditional, well rehearsed stance that “we can choose our friends, but we have no choice with regard to our neighbours.”
In effect, the Prime Minister said he would be happy to meet Mr. Nawaz Sharif “under normal conditions” but in the same breath implied that conditions were anything but normal. There is intense speculation whether Dr. Singh would meet Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly deliberations in New York later this month.
Though the PM's statement, on the face of it, appeared a bit tough, sources said the normal logistical preparations for the Manmohan-Nawaz meeting is pretty much on. The Prime Minister now has to take a formal decision to meet Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the UNGA meeting at New York, sources said.