NATIONAL

`Pak. using terror as bargaining tactic'

LONDON OCT. 31. The External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, has accused Pakistan of using terrorism as a "pre-dialogue negotiating tactic" and said this is wholly unacceptable to India.

"Such tactics can never succeed, and the sooner Pakistan realises this, the better it will be for its own future and for peace in the region," he said shortly after he arrived here on Wednesday to attend a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Group, which is expected to discuss Pakistan's call for revoking its suspension from the Commonwealth.

He reiterated India's view that the international community was guilty of "double-standards" in dealing with terrorism and called for a collective political will "undiluted by short-term political, military or economic calculations" to fight terror. The attack on Parliament in December last year should be viewed with the same seriousness as the September 11 terror attacks in America and the more recent outrages in Bali and Moscow. These were part of the same "global arc of terrorism", he said, in remarks that were seen directed at London and Washington. Mr. Sinha, who was addressing the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said Pakistan always "repaid" India's peaceful overtures with "hostility". India was prepared to resolve all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including Jammu and Kashmir, but Islamabad must renounce terrorism as an "instrument of state policy".

"We want a peaceful, prosperous and stable Pakistan. But Pakistan has to decide what kind of long-term relationship it wants with India," he said, accusing the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, of "grandstanding before the press" at the Agra summit and "wasting" an opportunity. "The main problem with the leadership in Pakistan is that it continues to believe that it can calibrate terrorism and dialogue simultaneously and use terrorism as a pre-dialogue negotiating tactic,'' he added.

Defends n-policy

Mr. Sinha defended India's nuclear policy and assured that its decision to go nuclear did not alter the "essentially defensive character of our security policy". He claimed that India's decision to exercise the nuclear option had helped remove "potentially dangerous strategic ambiguities in the region" and reiterated New Delhi's commitment to restraint.

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