New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) Asserting that dialogue was the only way forward, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday said that not talking to Pakistan will not isolate it but made it clear that ‘the terror machine has to be controlled by Pakistan, even if non-state actors are at work’ for any meaningful dialogue to progress.
Countering the opposition’s criticism about the recent foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan, Manmohan Singh said the talks were not ‘a sudden decision but a calculated one, based on weighing all the costs and benefits.’
Unwavering in his belief that ‘the channels of communication with Pakistan should not break down,’ Manmohan Singh told parliament: ‘The fact of the matter is that the rest of the international community is talking to Pakistan. So, our not talking to them is not going to isolate them.’
‘We have made our point strongly but we cannot wish away the problem by not talking to them,’ he stressed.
‘Even at the height of the Cold War, the Americans and the Soviets used to speak to each other. The chances of miscalculation can only increase in an environment of no contact,’ the prime minister said.
Manmohan Singh was replying to the debate on the motion of thanks to President Pratibha Patil’s address to both houses of parliament.
‘Dialogue is the only way forward for civilized countries to resolve their problems,’ the prime minister said.
‘But it is equally true that for any meaningful dialogue to proceed, the terror machine has to be controlled by Pakistan even if non-state actors are at work,’ he said.
Rebutting the opposition’s charge, Manmohan Singh said that the government has kept parliament fully informed at every stage of our policy towards Pakistan which, he stressed, ‘is consistent, cautious and realistic.’
Ahead of a likely meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani in Washington next month on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, Manmohan Singh made it clear to Pakistan India’s expectations of concrete anti-terror action.
‘We have left Pakistan in no doubt about our concerns and our expectations with regard to the actions Pakistan must take against the terrorist groups operating on Pakistani soil and targeting India,’ he said.
‘Pakistan must fulfill its assurances that it will not permit any territory under its control to be used to support terrorism in any manner,’ he said.
The prime minister denied he had sought any mediation by Saudi Arabia and underlined that all problems with Pakistan can be resolved bilaterally if it adopted a ‘reasonable’ attitude in dealing with terror elements targeting India.
‘I wish to reaffirm that no offer was made seeking mediation. We do not need any mediation. We are talking directly to Pakistan,’ the prime minister said.
Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of ‘spreading disinformation on sensitive aspects of foreign policy,’ Manmohan Singh rebutted charges levelled by BJP leader L. K. Advani that the government was talking to Pakistan under US pressure.
‘I categorically state that not once has he (US President Barack Obama) sought to pressurise India into taking one position or the other,’ Manmohan Singh said.
Ruling out the the involvement of foreign powers in South Asia, he said: ‘Whatever our problems, we must learn to talk to each other and to solve our problems in a peaceful manner using our own creative genius.’
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao held talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir here Feb 25 that focused on India’s concerns over cross-border terror emanating from the Pakistani territory.
Turning down Pakistan’s demand for an immediate resumption of the composite dialogue process, India had opted for a gradual, incremental approach to rebuild trust and gave Pakistan three more dossiers to act against anti-India terrorists operating from its territory.