Pak must end terror for better ties: Kalam
New Delhi, February 25
Emphasising that “our relations with Pakistan are of utmost importance to create a neighbourhood of peace, stability and prosperity,” Dr Kalam told Parliament on the opening day of its Budget session today that a serious dialogue is on and several initiatives have been taken in furtherance of that.
Noting that the government’s foreign policy is based on the “centrality of national and economic interests, the President stressed on that important measures have been taken keeping in mind the “imperative of retaining our freedom of options and remaining alive to our concerns.”
He said primary attention had been accorded to relations with immediate neighbours and strengthening the SAARC grouping to create shared prosperity and peace. “We will reaffirm the importance we attach to realising the potential inherent in SAARC at its forthcoming Summit meeting.”
Dr Kalam said the India-Pakistan process was taken significantly forward recently. In this context he referred to the agreement for a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. It had also been agreed in principle to start bus services between Lahore and Amritsar, including religious places such as Nankana Sahib. Pakistan had agreed to early restoration of the Khokrapar-Munabao rail link.
India’s relationship with Nepal continues to receive high priority. The problems faced by Nepal today “can only be addressed by a constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy working together harmoniously on the basis of national consensus.”
New Delhi had expressed grave concern following the dissolution of the multi-party government, declaration of Emergency and arrest of political leaders by his Majesty, the King of Nepal, on February 1.
Even as President Karzai’s current visit to New Delhi will strengthen “our participation in Afghanistan’s reconstruction,” India values its close relationship with Bhutan and enjoys a special and warm relationship with Bangladesh.
While valuing relations with major economic partners, Dr Kalam drew specific attention to India-US relations being on a steady course drawing on enduring affinity between the two countries. India’s economic ties with the European Union and its 25-member states have expanded steadily and “we will add momentum to the strategic partnership.”
India values its time tested and strategic partnership with Russia strengthened by the recent visit of President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation.
“My government has sought to accelerate our dialogue and engagement with China and we look forward to the visit of its Premier as an important bilateral landmark,” Dr Kalam observed.
The “Look East Policy” has substantially strengthened linkages with Japan, the member countries of ASEAN and the Republic of Korea. The forthcoming visit of the Japanese Prime Minister is a significant event. India’s relations with ASEAN has assumed new dimensions. India’s effective presence at the Asean summit in November last year and the success of the first BIMSTEC summit in July 2004 helped forge closer links with the eastern neighbours.
On energy security, the President said the government would give full importance to synchronising diplomatic activity with the country’s energy requirement to fuel the developmental needs.
New Delhi’s established and traditional interests in West Asia, the Gulf and proximate regions, including the substantial presence there of Indians, shall continue to be reflected in our interactions.
“We remain committed to the efforts of the international community in finding a just and durable solution to the problems that have faced the Palestinian people so that they achieve a state of their own. At the same time, we attach high importance to our friendly relations with Israel which we hope to strengthen and diversify.”
Dr Kalam said the forthcoming 50th anniversary of the Bandung Conference would be an important occasion to recall a historic initiative taken when decolonisation was starting to gather strength and which prefigured the values of the Non-Aligned Movement.
India will continue to pursue the comprehensive exercise to broaden the range of relations with countries in Africa and Latin America. “We will also reaffirm our commitment to the values of the Commonwealth at its Summit meeting in November this year.”
In this 60th anniversary year of the end of the Second World War and the founding of the United Nations Organisation, “we firmly believe that the problems that confront the world today are truly global and without borders calling for collective approaches. We will play an active and constructive role in all deliberations of global concern,” Dr Kalam added.
Further, New Delhi attaches importance to the reform of the United Nations for necessary renewal of the organisation and intends to forcefully articulate “our aspirations to permanent membership of the UN Security Council.”