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PM offers peace treaty to Pakistan
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 24
To strengthen the current bonhomie in the region, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today launched a new peace initiative with Pakistan, offering a “treaty of peace, security and friendship”. “The peace making process must ultimately culminate in giving a meaning and substance to our quest for shared goals”, he said.

The Prime Minister said, “India sincerely believes that a strong, stable, prosperous and moderate Pakistan is in the interest of India and entire South Asia. We are sincerely committed to the prosperity, unity, development and well being of Pakistan”.

Amid a downpour, the Prime Minister said Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had taken “concrete steps to curb terrorism but more needs to be done in the interests of both India and Pakistan”, he told a public rally here.

The Prime Minister, who spoke in Punjabi, said, “I have said repeatedly to President Musharraf and the people of Pakistan that we are sincerely committed to peace and development in this region. Our government is committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

“For this, General Musharraf and I had agreed that it was necessary to curb terrorism. There is a growing realisation in both countries that terrorism is an enemy of civilised societies. General Musharraf has taken bold steps to curb extremism and I compliment him for that. But more needs to be done in the interest of both India and Pakistan”.

Declaring that a meaningful agreement was possible with Pakistan on Siachen, Sir Creek and Baglihar, the Prime Minister, however, made it clear that it would be a mistake to link a solution to Jammu and Kashmir with other issues. He said borders could not be redrawn but we could work towards making them irrelevant, just lines on the map. People on both sides of the LoC should be able to move more freely and trade with one another.

He said, “We are not afraid of discussing Jammu and Kashmir or of finding pragmatic, practical solutions to resolve this issue as well. I am convinced we can move forward, if all concerned are willing to accept the ground realities; if all concerned take a long view of history and our destiny”, he said.

“We must encourage people-to-people contact between actors in civil society, between academics, businessmen, artistes and most importantly, the common people”. He said it was through such contacts that the two countries could explore a vision for a “cooperative common future where peace prevails, where relations are friendly, where our “cooperative common future where peace prevails, where relations are friendly, where our citizens rejoice in the well being of the other country”.

Underscoring the importance for adopting a step-by-step approach to the Kashmir issue, Dr Manmohan Singh suggested that both sides should begin a dialogue with people in their areas of control to improve the quality of governance.

The Prime Minister said the normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan would open up enormous opportunities for an accelerated rate of economic growth, and for creating new job opportunities. He said bilateral trade potential was far in excess of what we were able to realise on the ground. There are many things that the two Punjabs could learn from each other’s development experience.

“The vision that guides us is that the destinies of our peoples are interlinked. That our two countries must therefore devise effective cooperative strategies to give concrete shape and meaning to this shared vision. India sincerely believes that a strong, stable, prosperous and moderate Pakistan is in the interest of India and the entire South Asia .We want good neighbourly relations. We want all people of South Asia to live a life of dignity and self-respect”.

“We must move forward. We want to move forward. We need to do much more to create the environment in which we can move forward”.

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