Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday asserted that New Delhi will insist on Pakistan taking action against terror network on its soil. “We will press Pakistan to curb the activities of those elements engaged in terrorism against India. If they are non-state actors, it is the solemn duty of the Government of Pakistan to bring them to book, destroy their camps and eliminate their infrastructure. The perpetrators of acts of terror must pay the heaviest penalty for their barbaric crimes against humanity.”
Addressing a public meeting here, Dr. Singh said it was a misplaced idea that one could reach a compromise with the ideology of terrorists or that they could be used for one’s own political purpose. “Eventually, they turn against you and bring only death and destruction. The real face of the terrorists is clear for the people of Pakistan to see with their own eyes.”
Referring to his first tenure as Prime Minister, Dr. Singh said that when he took over in 2004 he said he 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 Kashmir issue.”
Dr. Singh pointed out that for the first time in 60 years, people were able to travel by road across the LoC and divided families were reunited at the border. Trade between the two sides of Kashmir began and overall trade with Pakistan increased three times during 2004-07. The number of visas issued to Pakistanis doubled during the same period and an additional rail link was re-established. “We were moving in the right direction. For the first time, there was a feeling among the people that durable peace was round the corner.”
He, however, expressed dismay over the fact that all that was achieved was repeatedly thwarted by acts of terrorism. “Terrorists want permanent enmity between the two countries. They have misused the name of a peaceful and benevolent religion. Their philosophy of hate has no place here. It is totally contrary to our centuries-old tradition of tolerance and harmony among faiths.”
He also sought Pakistan’s co-operation in making the CBMs (confidence-building measures) a success. “The cross-LoC initiatives have been well-received on both sides of the border. But I am also aware that they are not as people-friendly as they could be.”
Trade facilities at the border were inadequate. There were no banking channels. There was need to strengthen the Customs facilities. “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.