Maintaining that India will wait for some “solid” developments on the economic front and on the issue of Mumbai attacks before he visited Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the Pakistan military was on board in the peace process.
Asked about the rationale behind calling Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani a man of peace, Dr. Singh said he was not putting “blind faith in any individual however well meaning he may be. Our attitude will always be trust and verify,” but Mr. Gilani was a person who was “willing to work with us.”
During their interaction, Mr. Gilani “clearly understood” that another major terrorist attack, like Mumbai, would be a big setback to the peace process. But if trade ties and normalisation moved forward smoothly that would be a positive factor.
Peace process hinges on Pakistan doing justice in 26/11 case
The 26/11 Mumbai attacks are not a fading memory, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday.
While raising with Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani the issue of quickly prosecuting the masterminds in Pakistan, Dr. Singh said he left him in no doubt that if Indian public opinion was not satisfied that those responsible for the barbaric act at Mumbai were brought to justice, the peace process could not move forward
“Pakistan has now agreed to send a Judicial Commission. India has agreed to accept, modalities are being worked out and some progress in that area is there.”
He was talking to journalists during his return from the Maldives.
Asked about Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar's statement that the Pakistani military, long considered a stumbling block, was agreeable to the initiatives being taken by the democratically elected government, Dr. Singh declined to go into details, but on raising the issue with Mr. Gilani, he came away with the impression that “after a long time, Pakistan armed forces are on board.”
“So I come back with the expectation that the second round with Pakistan will begin very shortly. But what will be the outcome of the dialogue I cannot say now because Indo-Pak relations are subject to accidents. We both recognised that if there is one more incident like the 26/11 Mumbai attack, then that would be a big setback. I think that has been clearly understood by PM Gilani.”
On enhancing the trade and economic relationship, the Prime Minister was of the view that thinking elements in Pakistan themselves realised that trade liberalisation could be a win-win situation. There was also the recognition that the confidence-building measures across the Line of Control offered an opportunity to make the life of ordinary residents of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control “more livable.”
“And I also said that Pakistan must recognise that terror as an instrument of state policy today has no takers in the world. It does not solve any problem, it has given rise to Pakistani terrorism and terror, therefore, has to be dealt with firmly.”
Returning to Mr. Gilani's invitation to visit his country, Dr. Singh said the offer was made almost every occasion the two have met. “And I have accepted the invitations but I have also said that the right moment for my visit to Pakistan would be, if we could do some solid business together. As and when that stage is reached, I would be happy to visit Pakistan. But I have not made up mind as yet.”
Dr. Singh said any decision on Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's demand for partial withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) had to be discussed by all political players objectively.
“I am conscious of the positions. All those in charge of security and those dealing with handling of all the security forces should sit and objectively discuss,” he said.
“I don't think that political process [of consulting all political forces] has been completed,” he said.
The Army is said to be opposed to revocation of the AFSPA, which gives the security forces virtually unbridled powers while undertaking counter-insurgency operations in the State