New Delhi, Feb 27 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said there is no alternative to dialogue to resolve outstanding issues with Pakistan, adding that New Delhi sought ‘peaceful and normal relations’ with its western neighbour.
Maintaining that India was ready to discuss all matters, including Kashmir, in an atmosphere free from terror, Manmohan Singh said India is for ‘peaceful and normal relations’ with Pakistan and ‘in that quest we have consistently sought to engage those in Pakistan who are ready to work with us.’
He was speaking to Saudi journalists on the eve of his visit to Saudi Arabia that began Saturday.
‘There is no change in our position. We seek a peaceful and normal relationship with Pakistan. We should be good neighbours,’ Manmohan Singh said.
‘There is no alternative to dialogue to resolve the issues that divide us. Today the primary issue is terrorism,’ he added.
The Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries held their first meeting Thursday since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. India, however, says it is too early to resume the composite dialogue that was frozen in the wake of the Nov 26-29, 2008 Mumbai carnage that claimed 166 lives and which New Delhi blames on Pakistani terrorists.
In response to a query on India assessment on Pakistan’s Taliban threat to itself, Singh said: ‘Extremism and terrorism are major threats not only to India, but also to Pakistan, and all its other neighbours.’
‘As a neighbour, we cannot remain immune to the rise of extremism and terrorism in Pakistan, or on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan,’ he added.
‘It is in our collective interest that we resolutely oppose, resist and overcome terrorism and all those who nurture, sustain and give sanctuary to terrorists and extremist elements,’ Manmohan Singh maintained.
In this context, he noted that ‘Jammu and Kashmir and its people have suffered repeatedly at the hands of terrorism from across the border’, adding: ‘This has militated against the will of the people of the state, who have time and again voted in large numbers in democratic elections to unambiguously reject violence.’