M A I N   N E W S

India, Pakistan must work together: PM
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 20
In an apparent reference to the four-point Kashmir formula, mooted by Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf which, includes demilitarisation and joint control of the Jammu & Kashmir state, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he welcomed “all new ideas with an open mind”. “It was time both countries work together for a new future”, he said.

Statement of the Prime Minister is significant in view of the forthcoming talks between the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan next month.

After laying the foundation stones for five projects ahead of the Assembly elections in Punjab here today, the Prime Minister emphasised the time had come to ‘leave behind the animosities and the misgivings of the past’ and both sides worked together towards resolving the issues with broad, open and friendly mind, all pending issues through dialogue.

Reading from prepared speech, at a rally here today, Dr Manmohan Singh said “We can create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility through mutual consultations and co-exist peacefully”.

The Prime Minister said he had a dream that relations between the two countries should improve to such an extent that there could be an agreement possible on peace, friendship and security.

“It is my firm belief that such an agreement is possible by keeping aside small obstacles”, he said adding for the development of border areas such a pact was necessary.

The Prime Minister said his government was committed to establishing an atmosphere of peace with Pakistan and improve relations. “The destinies of our two nations are interlinked. We need to put the past behind us. We need to think about our collective destiny, a destiny where both neighbours can work jointly towards a better future for their citizens. If our minds are determined and focused on this goal, I am confident that this destiny can be realized”, he said.

Prime Minister said he had a vision regarding India and Pakistan and earnestly hoped that the relations between both countries become so friendly to generate such an atmosphere of trust between each other that the two nations would be able to agree on a treaty of peace, security and friendship. He said, “I have spoken in the past about such a treaty and I do so once again today from the same place. I am sure that we can overcome all hurdles in our path and realize such a treaty. This will become an instrument for realizing our collective destiny and the basis for enduring peace and prosperity in the region”.

Emphasising the need for creating permanent thaw in the region, the Prime Minister said if border areas of Punjab had to develop rapidly, then such a treaty was the need of the hour. He said he was aware that the residents of border areas of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore had been facing a lot of difficulties because they lived close to the international boundary.

The Prime Minister said since 1947, while saying one’s Ardas every morning, every Sikh had been expressing the wish and fond hope that they should once again have easy access to those religious places which were now in Pakistan. Dr Manmohan Singh said his government had been working hard and making every possible effort to make it reality. In the two and a half years, we have improved our relations with Pakistan. This has greatly facilitated easy movement of people and goods. He expressed confidence if both the countries continued on this path of peace, then Amritsar could once again regain its glory as a major centre of trade and commerce.

Appreciating the achievements of Punjabis in the past, the Prime Minister said that, “it was not yet time to rest on one’s laurels’. Punjab has some distance to go before it could say that it had achieved its development goals. There was no grinding poverty in the State but that was not enough. Growth in agriculture which we saw in the 60s and 70s, had slowed down. In agriculture, other states are reaching Punjab’s levels of productivity. And as far as industry was concerned, many other states had raced ahead Punjab. In such a situation it was essential that every citizen of Punjab renewed his pledge to work hard to make this state the leading state of the country once again.



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