M A I N   N E W S

PM warns of jehadi control over Pak nukes
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed concern about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons should President Pervez Musharraf be removed from office.

Talking to CNN late on Wednesday Dr Manmohan Singh said: “Well, the security of (nuclear) assets which are under the control of Pakistan, I think does worry us. And I hope that credible solutions can be found today with that problem.”

Asked what specifically worried him about the nuclear weapons, he said: “Well, if they get into the hands of the jehadi element, that could pose a serious problem.. I hope that this does not happen. And I pray that it will not happen.”

Dr Singh said India would like Pakistan to emerge as a moderate Islamic state and had “a vested interest in the stability and progress in Pakistan.”

Asked whether Al Qaida still had a “significant base” in Pakistan, he said there was “no doubt about this.”

In an interview with the Washington Post, Dr Singh said while he wished Gen Musharraf well, “I have to be realistic enough to recognise the role that terrorist elements have played in the last few years in the history of Pakistan.”

He said Taliban was the creation of Pakistan extremists, the Wahabi Islam which has flourished, thousands of schools, the madarsas were set up to preach jehad based on hatred of other religions.

Earlier, speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, Dr Singh said the “climate for resolution of long-standing issues can be easily vitiated if Pakistan’s territory continues to be used to plan terrorist acts directed against our country.”

“I, as the prime minister of a democracy cannot move ahead of Indian public opinion. If acts of terrorism are not under control that certainly affects my ability to push forward the process of normalizing our relations with Pakistan,” he said pointing to recent “disturbing developments” in Kashmir.

Dr Singh was the first Indian leader to interact with the American media at the National Press Club in two decades. Rajiv Gandhi was the last Indian prime minister to speak at the venue in 1985. Former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi also addressed the club.

Asked what he thought of the Indian food served at the club’s luncheon, Dr. Singh noted: “I was very happy at the mixture that was reflected in the food that was served in this room. I think the main course was, of course, standard American stuff. But the dessert was very much Indian. So, India had the last word,” he said to enthusiastic applause.

Gulab jamuns were served for dessert.


PM in Geneva

Geneva, July 21
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here today en route home after a three-day state visit to the USA during which he clinched the deal with President George W. Bush lifting all restrictions on supply of nuclear fuel and equipment to India.

After a night halt here, the Prime Minister will fly to New Delhi tomorrow.

Earlier in Washington, he was given a ceremonial send off. He was presented a guard of honour by contingents of the US Army, Air Force and Navy. — PTI

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