M A I N   N E W S

PM tells Pak to take steps to prevent terror
Gives assurance to keep prices under check
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 15
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today made a rare departure from unwritten protocol.

He mentioned Pakistan in his Independence Day address from the ramparts of the Red Fort and said the dialogue process could move forward in an atmosphere of peace.

“It is obvious that unless Pakistan takes concrete steps to implement the solemn assurances it has given to prevent cross-border terrorism against India from any territory within its control, public opinion in India, which has supported the peace process, will be undermined”, Dr Manmohan Singh said.

A few sentences later, the Prime Minister toughened his tone a little more and said, “Let those who want to hurt us by inflicting a thousand cuts remember: no one can break our will or unity; no one can make India kneel”.

This was in reference to Pakistan’s strategy of trying to dismember India or bleed the Indian economy white.

The Prime Minister had a word of advice for other neighbours (read Bangladesh) when he said, “All countries in our region must recognise that terrorism anywhere is a threat to peace and prosperity everywhere”.

He said India was prepared to work together with all its neighbours and had taken several initiatives in this regard, in particular with Pakistan.

“To be successful, these initiatives need an atmosphere of peace”, he said.

Dr Manmohan Singh used the occasion to deliver a no-nonsense message to terrorists and Naxalites when he said, “We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that terrorist elements in India are neutralised and smashed”.

He specifically mentioned the July 11 Mumbai blasts and said, “It cannot be business as usual for any of us”.

He made it clear that the government would not allow terrorists to undermine the country’s growing economic strength or destroy the country’s unity and integrity.

In this context, Dr Manmohan Singh came up with a solemn assurance.

“I give my assurance to every citizen that we will do our utmost to preserve our unity and integrity and to make our country safe and secure for every citizen. We will modernise, strengthen and properly equip our security forces and our intelligence agencies”, he said.

The Prime Minister picked on Naxalites to drive his point home that power flowed from the ballot box, not from the barrel of the gun.

He underlined the need for state governments to pay special attention to the welfare of tribals and small and marginal farmers as Naxalites exploited their distress.

Then came his terse message to Naxalites: “The path of violence can never solve the problems of the poor. Our security forces will respond appropriately to the violence unleashed by Naxalites”.

The Prime Minister made elaborate references to the North-East, a strategic border area which had remained neglected by governments for decades.

He stressed that the last two years had seen immense progress in the North-East in all spheres of development — better roads, better rail connectivity, first-ever thermal power projects in the region and better universities.

In a message clearly aimed at opposition parties, Dr Manmohan Singh said, “We must shun the politics of divisiveness and adopt the politics of change and progress. Our political parties and leaders must learn to work together and to build a consensus around national issues”.

The Prime Minister did not allow his long speech to become Pakistan-centric.

He covered a large number of economic, social and infrastructure-related issues in his speech. He pointed out that the country had been growing at a pace of over 8 per cent per annum and contended that such rapid growth over three successive years was unprecedented in Indian history.

He said higher economic growth was the best way to generate employment.

He listed out programmes that the government had launched as weapons in the war on poverty. The Prime Minister spent a good deal of time talking about the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, enacted to provide income security for those suffering from extreme poverty.

He described the Act as the most important social safety net and said programmes under the Act, for which at least 2 crore families had registered, currently covered 200 districts, would be expanded gradually to cover the country.

The Prime Minister referred to the Bharat Nirman, another programme aimed at modernising the country’s villages.

To balance out the rural-urban factor, he talked about the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, which aimed at injecting a new lease of life in Indian urban areas. Dr Manmohan Singh talked of debt-ridden farmers, the Sarv Shiskha Abhiyan, the Right to Information Act and rising prices.

“We will do whatever is required to keep prices under check”, he said. He mentioned the Backward Regions Grant Fund, aimed at developing backward regions, and said the government would spend Rs 5,000 crore annually in 250 districts.

The Prime Minister mixed his speech with a bit of caution when he said, “India is certainly on the march. Yet we have miles to go before we can truly say we have made our tryst with destiny”.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |