Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday told both Houses of Parliament that the only way ahead to resolve contentious issues with Pakistan was to engage it in dialogue, even as he asserted that Saudi Arabia's intervention was not sought.
Replying to the debate on the motion of thanks on the President's address to Parliament, he said: “I never believed that the channels of communication with Pakistan should break down. The chances of miscalculation can only increase in an environment of no contact.”
Dr. Singh said resumption of talks at the Foreign Secretary level was not a sudden decision. It was a calculated one based on all costs and benefits. Not talking to Islamabad would not isolate it as the rest of the world was talking with it.
“We have made our point strongly, but we cannot wish away the problem by not talking to them … Dialogue is the only way forward to resolve our problems,” he said, but pointed out that meaningful dialogue was possible only when Pakistan controlled the terror machine even if non-state actors were at work. He expressed the hope that Pakistan would fulfil its promise of not permitting the use of its territory to support terror.
The Prime Minister said he told Saudi Arabia that problems between New Delhi and Islamabad could be resolved through bilateral dialogue, provided Pakistan dealt reasonably with terror elements targeting India.
Dr. Singh declared that he did not make any offer to Saudi Arabia to mediate.
Expressing his distress at the manner in which leaders like L.K. Advani and N. Chandrababu Naidu accused him of acting under U.S. pressure, he said: “I think we do a disservice to any government and Prime Minister of this proud country if we say that such fundamental matters of national security and foreign policy were based on anything but our supreme national interest.”
While urging the Opposition to desist from spreading disinformation on sensitive aspects of the foreign policy, he said he did not wish to see the involvement of foreign powers in South Asia. “Whatever [are] our problems, we must learn to talk to each other and to solve our problems in a peaceful manner using our own creative genius.”
Dr. Singh referred to ties with Afghanistan, saying the February 26 attack in Kabul that killed seven Indians would not bend “the will of the people of India.” He assured Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai of any support he might require to fight terror.