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We can make borders irrelevant: PM

Resentment: Protesters shout slogans in Srinagar during a strike called by separatists on Friday to protest Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kashmir.

Resentment: Protesters shout slogans in Srinagar during a strike called by separatists on Friday to protest Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kashmir.   | Photo Credit: — PHOTO: AFP

Special Correspondent

SRINAGAR: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told a press conference here on Friday that good relations with Pakistan, “our very important neighbour to the North are an essential part of our policy.”

“My vision of India-Pakistan relations is that both countries situate their bilateral relations in a cooperative framework of mutual understanding. We seek the normalisation of our relations with Pakistan, a solution of all issues that cause estrangement, including Jammu and Kashmir through dialogue and peaceful negotiations in an atmosphere free of violence. While we cannot change borders, we can make them irrelevant,” he said.

“When I met President Zardari in New York recently, I invited Pakistan to work with us to usher in a new era of sub-continental cooperation.”

Road ahead

Dr. Singh said: “The road ahead is difficult but if we persevere and remain committed we will find solutions to all issues in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.

“When I inaugurated the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service in April 2005, I had said that this is the first step on a long road of peace. Notwithstanding the many difficulties which have come, we have taken several steps. The start of trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot roads on October 21 is a major initiative that has been taken. History will judge how big these steps were. The fact is that they have taken place after many lost decades of mutual recrimination, violence and war,” he said.

“There are real winds of change in the subcontinent today. Economics, technology and travel are altering older mindsets of suspicion, fear and hostility. It is undeniable that much has changed between India and Pakistan in the past few years,” he said.

All-party meet



Earlier, Dr. Singh chaired an all-party meeting and impressed upon the political parties to work towards bridging the gaps between the Kashmir and Jammu regions. “There are communal and regional tensions between two parts of state and I urged these parties to restore traditional relations,” he said.

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